There has been significant media attention and focus of late on resilience and how to improve the ability of our young people to bounce back from issues they face in an ever-changing and volatile world. The current generation, Generation Z, has had widespread understanding and usage of the internet from a young age. Generation Z tend to be comfortable with technology and rely heavily on social media platforms for a large portion of their social engagement. What is not yet fully understood, however, is the effect this exposure to the internet and social media platforms is having on their emotional and social wellbeing.

The balance between screen time, access to social media sites and limiting the use of technology whilst in the classroom will be an ongoing conversation that all schools and families will need to continue with their young people. At Snowy Mountains Grammar School, we take this issue seriously, and we begin our online education in the Junior School. As students begin to use the internet for research and to use online applications for classwork, staff model and guide our youngest students whilst they are online. This continues in the Senior School, with students having more independence in their use of technology, but being given specific skills and education in cyber-bullying, social media and plagiarism. Whilst young people sometimes make poor choices regarding the use of technology in their friendships with others, the school is committed to educating our students in their approach. The main objective is to provide the opportunities for our students to be successful in the 21st century workplace.

The idea of success has been a hot topic of conversation amongst our community of late. Recently, on Facebook, there was a wonderful post from Angela Lee Duckworth that poses the question, “Why do some students fail and others succeed?” whilst at school. What is most important to acknowledge is that it has little to do with IQ. Through research, Ms Duckworth was looking for reasons why people succeed. Interestingly, it was not social or academic intelligence. Rather it was GRIT. Grit can be described as “a positive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objectives. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment, and serves as a driving force in achievement realization.”

With this in mind, staff professional learning has been focusing on Grit and Resilience in Term 3. Mrs Sue Sell has been leading the staff in learning about positive growth mindset, with the intention of helping staff to include some explicit skills in every classroom that encourages students to develop resilience and grit in their learning. This may include tasks that are open-ended, with no specific correct answer. Assessment tasks that are marked on effort, by the students themselves. Tasks that are challenging, that might actually haveresult or answer that most don’t reach. The staff have enjoyed being involved in many practical activities and discussions that challenge our own mindset. Are we positive or fixed?

One of the most powerful visuals that we have been shown is the “Iceberg Illusion”:

What is most forgotten when looking at a successful person is the persistence, the hard work, the failures and the sacrifices made on the road to success. It is important that we acknowledge and recognise what success really means: the process through which a person has started by setting a goal, worked hard to achieve little steps along the way, dealt with the disappointment that comes along and maintained their discipline so as to be able to bounce back. In order to achieve, there is much more than the end result.

At Snowy Mountains Grammar School, this week has been exemplified by so many students displaying grit. Year 12 Extension 2 English, Design and Technology, Drama, Music and Visual Arts students, all determined to finish and hand in their major works. Also, the hard work of the staff, working side by side with them, throughout the weekend, is a wonderful example of grit.

I had the pleasure this week of starting the interviewing process for the 2018 School Captains. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend the entire day talking to the next leaders of the school. To discuss their hopes and dreams for 2018, and what they would like to work towards as leaders, was inspiring and left me in no doubt that the school is in good hands. All of the applicants had shown a range of successes, across all areas of the school, through hard work, determination and team work.

On the mountain during Interschools, so many of our students have shown how determined they are to achieve personal and team goals whilst representing the school. There are very many individual results that should be congratulated; however, the most important aspect for me is to congratulate them on how hard and determinedly they have worked for their success. It is never easy, even if they make it seem so on course. There are early mornings (lots of them), missed school work and late homework sessions. Quality time with friends are put on hold, and even sleep. These young athletes work hard to be so successful. (As do their parents.)

NAPLAN results were also received this week in Year 3, 5, 7 and 9 households. For some, this record demonstrates how hard some of our students are working in their learning areas. Whilst the results for our Year 3 students are outstanding, we cannot take away from the students and Mrs Elliott just how hard they work every day on all aspects of their learning. Again, another demonstration of how our children are succeeding. Congratulations to all students on their determination to do the best they can in these national benchmark tests.

So I would encourage our community to celebrate success this term, not just for the medals or the results or the end product; rather for what success truly is: hard work, dedication, sacrifice and persistence. For that is what we can truly be proud of.