Girl Guardians and Positive Psychology

 

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Girl Guardians is a pilot mentoring programme involving a small group of bright and gifted Year 5 girls and five Perth College ‘Old Girls’. Each Tuesday evening, we meet for dinner and then move into the Junior School Library for further learning tasks.

Dinner last night included a game of Chinese Whispers with some very interesting results at the end of the line!  

Each Tuesday evening, the girls reflect on when they were at their best during the week. They consider the emotions they were feeling at that time and the character strengths they felt helped them to flourish. Sophia said she was at her best when she was playing netball. She says, “My team was working together so we won. We won because we were working as a team. I was feeling happy and fuzzy because we were working together.” Sophie identified the character strength of teamwork as the indicator in helping her, and her team, flourish.

The girls were also asked to reflect on challenges they may have faced during the week. This could be one or many, depending on their week. They reflected on the character strengths they drew upon to work through each challenge and how they felt when they were challenged. The girls considered the ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts) they encountered and how they counteracted them with PETS (Performance Enhancing Thoughts). Or, perhaps they found this difficult.

Sensi reflects on her challenge during the week: “I felt challenged when in NAPLAN we were writing a persuasive text. I got up to the rebuttal and for about two minutes I was debating what to do – a rebuttal or a conclusion. I finally decided to do a rebuttal in three minutes and a conclusion. I was under time pressure and I wanted my text to be good and not feel rushed. I definitely had to use persistence and draw on my zest to madly write to finish.” When considering her emotions, Sensi said she “felt nervous, scared and anxious that I wasn’t going to finish the story and I started having ANTS that it wasn’t going to be good enough to get an average grade for me as I am normally capable of finishing and getting good grades. I started thinking about PETS and remembered and thought that if I kept on writing right ‘til the last minute then I will definitely finish and finish it with a good result. When I finished, I felt so relieved and I was more aware of my ANTS trying to stop me finishing.”

By providing the girls with time to reflect on their week utilising positive psychology strategies both independently and through conversations with their mentors, the relationships between the mentors and girls are developing. Each week the mentors gain a deeper understanding of the unique characteristics of each of the girls. Observing the interactions between the mentors and mentees has also given me insight into how each girl responds and reacts through her behaviours whether they are quiet, reflective and softly spoken or energetic, overexcited and full of zest. These interactions are important to monitor and consider, to ensure the support and ongoing development of the girls through the mentoring programme.