By Life Skills Group
Published 22 October 2020 09.00 AM
Interview with Stephanie Giles, Assistant Principal for Guildford West Public School: Implementing whole-school wellbeing with the help of Life Skills Group
Guildford West Public School has been successful at improving wellbeing by using a whole school approach - integrating multiple activities wrapped around Life Skills Go and Life Skills Group in-person student programs along with other interventions. It has helped that both the staff and students use the same terminology/same language for wellbeing, and all the teachers have had wellbeing Professional Development training from Life Skills. Since implementing whole-school wellbeing across the school, there has been a reduction in disruptive behaviour and a reduction in suspensions by 80% from 2017 to 2020.
How has Life Skills In-Student programs been implemented in your school?
Since 2017, Guildford West Public School has run a yoga and mindfulness program through the Life Skills Group. Students participate in this program once a week for a term, with the focus on developing self-management and emotional regulation strategies. The program is a mix of yoga and mindfulness, with students participating in hands-on activities which are then followed up in the classroom.
In 2019, we began using Life Skills Go as a pilot school. Life Skills Go is an online program where students participate in both whole-class and individual lessons aimed at developing skills in the areas of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, positive relationships, wise decisions and physical awareness. All students across the school participate in a minimum of one Life Skills Go lesson per week. Students with specific needs in these areas, or students returning from suspension have an individualised program created which is tailored to their social, emotional, and behavioural needs. This program tracks student wellbeing data.
What has been the impact of implementing the program?
From the Life Skills Group in-student program, students are able to use strategies taught through Life Skills lessons and there is a common language across the school used to describe social and emotional learning. This program has resulted in measurable improvements in wellbeing and engagement for all students.
Life Skills Go student wellbeing data allows the school to continue to refine our approach to wellbeing and engagement and monitor student wellbeing.
There has been a significant reduction in disruptive behaviour across the school, and an 80% drop in suspensions between 2017 and 2020 which is evidence of the initiatives implemented to address student wellbeing and social and emotional learning.
How did you implement the Life Skills Go Online Learning platform and what has worked best for your school?
When we originally let teachers “have a go” at the Life Skills Go online platform - it wasn’t very successful. It wasn't until we started curriculum planning to ensure the teachers led at least 1 Life Skills Go lesson a week over 10 weeks in the term that we began to see the impact we were looking for.
There is collaborative planning at the beginning of each school year and term to plan their units of work including 10 Life Skills Go lessons for the term and teachers each commit to doing 1 Life Skills Go lesson a week in their planning. We give the teachers planning time at the end of the term to ensure they plan this for their next term. The teachers can choose which Life Skills Go lesson they want to select for their class.
Some other ways we've integrated Life Skills into our wellbeing curriculum:
“Both the Life Skills Yoga Program and Life Skills Go have had a significant impact on students within the support unit. Most of the students in these classes have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and often experience difficulties with social interactions and their understanding of social and emotional learning concepts. This program has enhanced their ability to not only understand these concepts but apply them in real-life situations. Students regularly and independently use the strategies taught in through Life Skills lessons when encountering difficult social situations which has enhanced their social relationships with their peers and improved their wellbeing."
Classroom Teacher, Support Unit, 2020
"Life Skills Go allows me to embed wellbeing into my classroom; I regularly use the Class Weather Report which informs me of student wellbeing for each morning. Through this online check in, I was able to decrease anxiety with a verbal follow up, and measure student wellbeing using the data from the program. I allocate interactive and targeted lessons to specific students to build and manage self-regulation, in particular, the managing emotions and self-regulation lessons increased resilience, problem-solving skills and built emotional intelligence. This set students up for success as they were able to use the skills they acquired from these lessons to identify uncertain emotions and respond to unexpected and challenging situations."
Stage 2 Teacher, 2020
"Students are learning to self-regulate their emotions as they are starting the school year in a new classroom and playground dynamic. Students have frequently referred to balloon breaths as a good strategy to calm down and focus (modelled by teachers as well). This learning has extended to being caring, confident and kind students."
Stage 1 Teacher, Guildford West Public School, Term 3 2020
"Smaller groups meant that classes were more intimate and focused. Program was aligned with school PBL context. Students came back to class in a calm state, helping throughout the day. In the time that the students begun lifeskills, there has been a marked increase on students listening and focused skills. They are learning to collaboratively work in a team while using calm techniques to resolve differences within the group. The teacher and lessons were of top quality."
Stage 3 Teacher, Guildford West Public School, Term 3 2020
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