Recently, the Year 9 Pastoral Program has been looking at ways to boost motivation and help students develop positive perceptions about their abilities to learn.

While it is often easy for students to identify their mistakes or things they are not very good at yet, and constructive feedback and reflection is an essential element of learning, dwelling on these things can lead to the development of unhelpful negative feelings.

Through the Pastoral Program, Year 9 students have been exploring strategies to help them train their brains to focus on the positive progress they are making and to believe they can continue to improve. These strategies include developing a growth mindset and “Success Journaling”.

Developing a growth mindset involves seeing mistakes or failures as ‘setbacks’ from which students can learn and the belief that one’s intelligence, talents and qualities can be developed through endeavour. It requires students to change their thinking from “this is too hard” to “this will take a bit of time and effort”.

Our aim in keeping a “Success Journal” is to help students to focus on the good things that are happening in their lives by taking time to identify and acknowledge their “small wins” on a regular basis.

In her article “Science Explains How Writing Down Tiny Achievements Every Day Changes Our Brains” Rebecca Beris, a wellness and lifestyle writer notes: “Any accomplishment, no matter how small, activates the reward circuitry of our brains. When this pathway is opened some key chemicals are released that give us a feeling of achievement and pride. In particular, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released which energizes us and gives us a feel-good aura. This chemical enables us not only to get that sweet feeling of reward but also motivates us to take action and repeat what we did to trigger its release in the first place.”

Two of our Year 9 Pastoral Leaders, Ms Shagun Maheshwari and Ms Emily Scott, designed an impressive journal based on the image of the success iceberg (an image that shows how, like an iceberg, success is made up of many trials, actions and small wins that usually happen below the surface, out of sight of others). Each Year 9 Student has their own “Success Journal” and will have time to reflect on their accomplishments in Morning Pastoral on a regular basis.

We hope our Year 9 students will enjoy the satisfaction of many, many small wins this year and that this process will encourage a good habit to help them feel more positive and empowered in life!

Sarah Nash
Year 9 Level Coordinator