Student WellbeingFebruary 19, 2020
Hello parents, guardians, students and staff
Welcome back to SFX for 2020.
I know that for many of us, the Summer holidays were not the relaxing, regenerating time that we may have expected and hoped. The bushfires and subsequent smoke followed by the hail event that affected much of Belconnen and North Canberra meant that we were living in a heightened state of vigilance and concern for many weeks. Even if these events did not affect us directly, our worries were for extended family, friends and communities that we cared for. For some in our community, it was a traumatic time.
With this in mind, it is fortunate that teachers at St Francis Xavier College do have some training in dealing with trauma. For the past three years, SFX has been a trauma-sensitive school. What this means is that staff have undertaken training—as recently as the start of this year—in what trauma is; the effects of trauma on the brain and young peoples’ ability to learn; and most importantly, how to best support young people in these circumstances. Even for those completely unaffected by trauma or whose resilience is such that they are able to cope, the principles of being a trauma-sensitive school are good practice in any context and lead to a school environment that is calm, caring and forgiving.
On the topic of trauma, it is a good time to look at our own behaviour and language when dealing with situations involving young people. There is an adage that “happiness is infectious”, but we can safely replace “happiness” with almost any emotion or mood and it is just as true. One of the most notable of these is anxiety. If the children in our care are anxious or worried, the best way to help them is to be a calming influence. Acknowledging and listening to their concerns is important, but it is vital that our responses are de-escalating the situation. All of us—young people included—read as much through body language, tone of voice and facial expression as we do through the actual words spoken, so it is important that we are consistent in the messages that we give and the way we give them.
As always, I am happy to talk to parents about anything in this article or any other issues you may wish to discuss.
I hope that your year and that of your sons and daughters have started well.
Assistance Principal – Student Wellbeing