CLIENT STORY

Mount St Michael’s College

MOMENTUM POSITIVE STUDENT LEADERSHIP PROGRAM

About Mt. SM

Mt St Michael’s is a Catholic secondary school Years 7-12, under the Stewardship of Mary Aikenhead Ministries, located in Ashgrove (a suburb of Brisbane), Queensland. Devoted to the love of learning, as a College they come together each day in ‘Faith and Love’ to share the gift of learning and extend their values of Hope, Justice, Love and Compassion to the student community.

The Challenge

In late 2020, Mt St Michael’s approached The Positivity Institute (PI) to help them provide additional support to their newly elected Student Leadership Team.  They were conscious that these senior students (about to commence Year 12 in 2021) would be navigating the ongoing challenges created by the Covid pandemic and wanted to give them every support to be effective Student Leaders.

The College saw this program as an opportunity to continue developing their Positive Education Program in alignment with the College strategic plan.  They specifically wanted to build the capacity of their Student Leadership team to both feel good (maintain high wellbeing) and function well (work towards meaningful leadership goals) as student leaders and to build upon the foundation of Positive Psychology teaching that the girls had already experienced during their years at the college through the internal Positive Education program (Years 7-10).

Our Solution

The Positivity Institute worked closely with the Deputy Principal to develop a pilot six session group coaching program for the Student Leadership Team.  The program was delivered virtually by a PI Coach facilitator with a Teacher Coach in the room with the 14 members of the Student Leadership team. The coaching sessions commenced in 2020 and continued for the first half of 2021.

This program drew upon the findings of Dr Suzy Green’s studies of coaching programs with senior high school students (Green, Grant & Rynsaardt 2007) and adapted elements of the coaching program used in the research.

In addition, the concept of Positive Leadership was introduced, and a strengths approach encouraged, to support self-awareness and goal striving.

The Results

Outcomes

The coaching program, now known as the Momentum Positive Student Leadership Coaching Program, is in 2023/24 being offered for a fourth consecutive year at Mt St Michael’s.

From the first year, increased communication and cohesion between the student leaders has been observed by the College Staff who work closely with the Student Leadership Team, as well as the achievement of many of the positive leadership goals that the students set.

The positive impact has been reflected in feedback from the Student Leaders who note that the additional time together as a team is valuable and enjoyable, as well as appreciating the encouragement to focus on personal wellbeing and achievement in addition to Positive Leadership

Year on year we’ve continued to work closely with the College to review participant feedback, refine and extend the program to seven sessions and cater to the needs of each years’ Student Leadership Team.

However, the overarching goal: to equip the students with key psychological skills to help them maintain wellbeing and strive for high performance even in times of significant challenge, remains the same.

The virtual delivery of the program has also been maintained and the College feels that this has an additional benefit in encouraging the Student Leaders to learn and communicate in a variety of ways as they prepare for graduation from secondary school.

Feedback from the Student Leaders

When students were asked what was enjoyable about the program:

  • I loved being able to reflect on our achievements and being able to spend more time with the SLT to get closer.
  • I liked the group discussions and when we were taught about wellbeing strategies.
  • Learning how to use not only my strengths but also my teams.
  • The discussions with the group and learning how other people go about their goal setting/life balance – took some tips from my peers.
  • Being able to connect with the SLT, creating leadership goals together, learning from each other and learning about our individual strengths.

When students were asked what was learned during the program:

  • How to make the most of my time and realistically set goals.
  • Strategies to employ when I am feeling overwhelmed or challenged.
  • How to mindfully accept negative thoughts and move forward.
  • I learnt that the concepts from the program can be translated and applied across leadership, teamwork and in individual settings.
  • I think it made me pay more attention to my character strengths and consider how I can use them in my daily life.
  • The importance of savouring the micro-moments that boost energy so that in times of challenge, these can be drawn upon.

Testimonials

“I really enjoyed being able to discuss leadership skills and notice common struggles amongst the leadership team. We were able to notice the difficulties in our leadership and work through it to figure out solutions.”

Student Leader from the MOMENTUM program.