It’s the beginning of the school year, and teachers spend a great deal of time working on relationships and connection with their students. At St Margaret’s Berwick Grammar, we spend extra time in House Meetings, with peer mentors and in the many kinds of formal and informal activities that help us get to know our students – and to help them get to know each other too.
Our vertical House system recognises the need for connections across all year levels and prioritizes mentoring also as a key bond between young people.
As you know, Connection is one of the five daily habits of the Wellbeing Hive, emphasizing the human need to relate to others – to build and maintain bonds and to see our worth reflected in how others respond to us. It is a simple truth that a smile and a greeting from someone we like and admire can make our day – a lesson we like to teach our student leaders. An empathetic ear, a good laugh or a clap on the back or shoulder can all have a powerful impact. Connection creates positive emotions – makes us feel that powerful sense of BELONGING. This is very important in the journey towards school success.
So schools should spend much of the start of the year engaged in ways to help young people feel connected. Schools are communities – and it is important for the self-esteem of young people to feel seen, heard and accepted (or better yet, appreciated) in that community.
It’s also worth noting that there are many others ways to feel connected too – beyond those connections to friends and family that we need each day. And it may be useful to recognize some of these and build opportunities to explore them – for yourselves or for any young people in your lives and work.
I noticed when we were in lockdown last year, that nature was something I felt a yearning to be connected to. I craved wide open spaces and fresh air – things that reminded me I was a part of a broader world, a place of wonders despite the mundanities of our days back then. A connection to nature can be a powerful and underestimated wellbeing booster, creating that sense of awe and wonder that we should never lose. It might be similar for you, or there might be specific places you feel strongly connected to – places that you find yourself drawn to in order to think or to celebrate or to reminisce. Connection to place can be very powerful.
Some also find a powerful sense of belonging in their heritage and culture – in the idea of an unbroken line of tradition and custom. That sense of standing shoulder to shoulder with those who have supported the same ideas and the same rituals over the years. Religion falls into this category too – a deep sense of connection to an idea bigger than yourself, and commitment to serve an idea or an ideal that is greater and more beautiful.
This might also be considered a connection to a sense of purpose. As we discovered in Term 3 last year, a sense of purpose can create high levels of meaning in our lives – making us feel like there is a higher power guiding us. The discovery and following through of a passion, a cause or a principle can make us feel deeply connected through a true understanding of self. There is nothing more empowering than knowing yourself and feeling that there is something truly special you can offer to the world.
This will all connect to the Senior School Wellbeing Theme for the term – Self-Monitoring. This will be the focus on our next article.
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