Welcome to Room 17
Firstly, welcome to Room 17. I, Brenton Ainsworth, could not be more excited to be teaching your child in Year Two. For most of them, I was fortunate to meet them two years ago down in Pre Primary so I look forward to a year full of academic, social, and emotional growth. Below is just some reminding and new information regarding this initial term of the academic year.
our weekly timetable
our wow work
our gratitude, empathy & mindfulness practices
This is otherwise referred to the acronym G.E.M. The program was designed by Hugh van Cuylenburg in his Resilience Project he created after spending several months living and volunteering in the far north of India. In the small community, there was no running water, no electricity, and no beds; everyone slept on the floor of their hut. Despite the fact these people had very little to call their own, Hugh was continually blown away by how happy they were. It was at this time that he realised that their practices to life were simple. Each day they practiced Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness as it leads us to a happier more fulfilling experience. Once he discovered these three principles were also evidence-based, Hugh decided to share these simple and highly effective wellbeing strategies in a program for schools (as he was a Teacher). Ten years on, having worked with over 1,000 schools, it turns out it wasn’t just schools that wanted to hear this message! Hugh presents these teachers, students, parents, workplaces, community leaders and sporting clubs every day. This includes the NRL (where it is mandated for all players to participate), AFL (including famous stars like Dustin Martin & Luke Shuey etc.), the national Australian Cricket team and other professionals. The G.E.M process is very easy to follow and is not time consuming. It is something I personally do daily.
For more details, I have linked 'the Resilience' website below, as well as links to his book that is great read. I listened to chapters on an audiobook as well as read the physical book.
It has been documented that humans are seven times more likely to pick up on a negative rather than a positive. This reflects the fact that it then takes seven positives to override one negative. Via practicing the G.E.M principle, after three weeks, you are more likely to pick up on small positives of your day.
The simple way we define gratitude in Room 17, is that it is what we are grateful/thankful for. Each day, I write down five things that I am grateful for. This could be as simple as my students (you will be surprised how much that is written down), family, friendship etc. or it can be very deep. Each morning in Room 17 we practice gratitude by initially students individually writing down in their gratitude journal's (as shown in the picture below) at least three things tht they are grateful for (also pictured below). Then when we gather on the mat as a group to comemnce the day, each member of the class then tells everyone what they are grateful for. We commenced with just one per child, but now it has advanced up to if they like (however, they often suggest more which you let them go as you see how happy they become as they say each thing). It started simple but now they are advancing things such as friendship, family, and now they are suggesting nature, oxygen, shelter etc. They are becoming brilliant at it and it is great to see. If they suggest something a little deeper, I often pose as to why e.g. the sun or earth and they explain things such as it helps us live or grow. It surprises me daily with that their minds come up with. When then find five to write on the board (as demonstrated in the photo's below). At the conclusion of the day, we then repeat this process or reflect on a positive we have drawn from the day. Again, this could be as simple as I got a lunch order, I got to play etc. or can be a little deeper. This is honestly wonderful.
We simply define empathy as, caring or looking after someone. This can be if they are happy or if they in need. We discuss when someone has demonstrated empathy throughout the day. Again, this could be as simple as someone played with me or it can go a little deeper.
We simply define mindfulness as, keeping ourselves calm/relaxed in a positive mind frame. We practice mindfulness through everyday things. It does not have to be a guided mediation (smiling minds is a brilliant application for this), it can be listening to music, thinking about positives or what we are grateful for, it can be in craft activities or physical activities etc. There are a variety of activities to practice mindfulness whilst completing other activities. From here we are focusing on the ability to respond and not react to negative situations. They are becoming sensational at this and it has increased their resilience levels, even as they get fatigued at the concluding stages of the term.