Wellbeing at Korowal
Korowal School staff and teachers work in dynamic ways, facilitating a learning environment which recognises the whole child within their social and cultural environment. Mental health and wellbeing are supported throughout the school in a manner that assist students to thrive, to find their own specific ways of learning about themselves, and engage in their educational path. We encourage all students to have a voice.
Some of the ways we support wellbeing:
The Learning Hub
Learning support teachers
Open Dialogue family engagement
A network/community approach to support
One of Korowal School’s aims is to create a safe and supportive environment in which students, teachers and families feel valued. Korowal School does not tolerate bullying in any form. The School seeks to promote a learning environment where we:
minimise risk of harm
support the physical, social, academic, spiritual and emotional development of students
provide policies and programs that develop a sense of self-worth and foster personal development
are mutually supportive
respect each other, the value and ethos of the school
provide equal opportunity for all
We believe that it is essential to an individual's personal growth to flourish in connection with other human beings. One of our roles as educators is to assist students who behave in ways that are inappropriate or unacceptable within the context of the school's values.
We are interested in changing these behaviours in such a way that students feel that they belong to our community. What remains important is that unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour is dealt with and change is achieved.
We are all learning from each other constantly. The Restorative Practice model allows us to employ the most appropriate conversation for each circumstance or incident that has caused disruption.
Restorative Practice is used when there has been a breakdown in relationships. It is an explicit approach for people to clearly articulate what has happened and describe the impact or repercussions that a behaviour or action has had on the people involved.
The method invites insight, accountability and defines consequences. The premise behind this is that we focus on the behaviours or actions, rather than the person. Behaviours which are harmful, abusive or offensive can be remedied. We aim to reduce shame while accepting accountability, and nominating a means for making things right between us.
We began our education into the Restorative Practice process with Terry O’Connell at the start of 2014 and have started conversations that seek to restore relationships by encouraging the participants to ask: what happened, what harm has resulted and what needs to happen to make things right?
At its best, Restorative Practice works because it is explicit, deliberate, consistent and capacity building. We acknowledge that there are times and incidents where coming together is not the first step needed. Before people are brought together, we assess the situation. It may take a number of conversations with individuals before they are ready to come together, but our goal is to restore relationships.
When things go wrong, we ask:
- What happened?
- What were you thinking of at the time?
- What have you thought about since?
- Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way?
- What do you think you need to do to make things right?
When someone has been hurt, we ask:
- What did you think when you realised what had happened?
- What impact has this incident had on you and others?
- What has been the hardest thing for you?
- What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
As we develop Oracy at Korowal we also work with Open Dialogue Principles for student meetings. We engage in dialogue. Many common elements exist between both practices. Our staff and students are mastering these processes inside the classroom and in Network Meetings, from Kindy to year 12. Students are learning the skills of talking, listening, sharing, expanding upon ideas, encouraging every voice into the space, refraining from judgement, building upon each other’s ideas, respectful communication.
Open Dialogue Network Meetings have become our unique way of working with students, particularly following our whole staff training in 2022. At Korowal we place the student’s voice in the centre of their network. In a school context, those participating in the network meeting may include the student, their parent/s, carer/s, teacher/s and others within their network of support as needed. This form aligns with our inherent values, as maintaining healthy and honest relationships sits at the core of our school’s philosophy. Within any community setting we exist in relationship to one another. When participating in Open Dialogue we experience compassion, equity, respect for all participants, empathy and gratitude for the honesty and commitment to the student. We require resilience to persevere, and a willingness to listen and respond to what is presented at that time in that space. We refrain from judgement and encourage frank and open conversation. It is a powerful experience.
Open Dialogue at Korowal School
Key principles and elements enacted at Korowal include:
Social network perspective
Bringing together the network around a child.
Flexible and adaptive to different needs, at different times.
Starting with the child, ensuring the child’s voice is present
Each participant holding responsibility for their part in the process.
Emphasising the present moment
“What’s important to talk about today”
Polyphony (all voices)/ Eliciting multiple view points
Each voice is invited into the space to respond and share
Working together to find new meaning
Listening to support further dialogue
Reflective practice/Being transparent
Sharing between one another tentatively and curiously and sharing our inner dialogue
Having a purpose, not an agenda to the meeting
The network together deciding what is important to talk about
Decisions being made in the meeting together
All talk happening at one time.
Non Pathologising language
Eliciting meaning from those in the network