The EMPOWER Program is the social and emotional wellbeing program at Dominic College from K-10. Embedded around the philosophy of Positive Psychology it combines the best elements from a number of highly acclaimed programs to create a program designed to empower our students and give them valuable skills to ensure they thrive. It is explicitly taught from K-10.
The name of the program is both a statement of intent and an acronym. The aim of the program is to empower our students and help them flourish in life. It encompasses the key areas of positive emotion, positive (growth) mindset, positive psychology, positive outlook, positive wellbeing, positive engagement and positive relationships all tied together on the foundation of understanding and embracing character strengths.
The scientific field of Positive Psychology was founded by Professor Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania. Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing, and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrive.
Positive Psychology is grounded in the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within them, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.
Four of the major aims of Positive Psychology:
Positive Psychology provides the underlying framework for the EMPOWER Program at Dominic College and forms the foundation from which we draw upon in teaching and guiding our students towards flourishing.
Educational research has demonstrated the effectiveness of an education program for each student is improved when appropriate goals are set in place by students with their teachers, and if possible, parents.
When students learn and practise how to set and achieve goals, especially with their school work, they learn how to take more responsibility for their education. They learn how they play a significant role in their own education and in their future.
By learning how to set and achieve goals, how to overcome challenges, the importance of being positive, and how to measure their progress, students learn how to enhance and increase their chances for success.
Almost all successful people have one quality in common and that is the habit of goal setting. If students are taught to set goals during their schooling, they will learn to set goals, pertaining to their career and personal life. Goal setting for students aims to inculcate self-esteem, discipline, focus, concentration, dedication and hard work.
The objectives of the College Goal Setting Process are to:
Each one of us possess all 24 of the VIA character strengths in varying degrees making up our own unique profiles. The Classification of Character Strengths is comprised of 24 character strengths that fall under six broad virtue categories: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence . They are morally and universally valued, encompass our capacities for helping ourselves and others and produce positive effects when we express them.
The human tendency is to pay more attention and give more weight to negative rather than positive experiences. Research has shown that taking the time to identify positive or good things that happen helps counter the negativity bias, generates greater satisfaction and is a powerful yet simple wellbeing activity. It also helps develop an attitude of gratitude.
At the end of every week we have a section in the diary for students to reflect on their week just passed. It is called What Went Well….
Students are encouraged to take the time each week to focus on the positive, identify and write three things they are grateful for or go panning for the specks of gold in their week.
The Year 7 EMPOWER Program aims to establish and maintain a supportive and safe environment which is conducive to learning, whilst creating a sense of community and family. The program begins by focusing on organisational skills, to assist students with the transition from primary to secondary schooling. It then moves on to the college's Safe School Policy which educates about bullying, harassment, reporting and the creation of a safe school environment. Following this the program splits into single sex lessons where body image, nutrition, the importance of sleep and healthy living are addressed. Finally the program aims to develop a high level of resilience in individual students. Because of the nature or some of the content these classes are gender specific.
The Year 8 EMPOWER Program aims to develop a high level of resilience in individual students by providing them with communication skills that include assertiveness and conflict resolution. Students cover topics such as risk taking (alcohol and smoking), and start their journey towards career orientation through the Real Game.
The main feature program in Year 8 is the Rock and Water program. The Rock and Water Program at Secondary level addresses: standing strong, rock- and water attitude, mental power, awareness of boundaries, empathic feeling, intuition-training, prevention of sexual violence, group pressure, homophobia, body language and group-dynamics, success-strategies and expressing respect to others.
The program is very active with lots of physical exercises alternated with group-discussions. Each lesson is supported with questions and simple assignments in order to make a successful integration with every day-life.
The entire Year 9 Ownership program is The Rite Journey. Students undertake this year long program in sex specific small groups, culminating in ceremonies and rites of passage.
'The Rite Journey' guides schools to create a program that allows each Year 9 student to share in a yearlong partnership with their teacher-guide as they explore what it means to be a respectful and responsible adult in their society.
The framework allows for the curricular content to be taught within the four topics of Relationship with Self, Others, Life and The World. Some of the content covered can include 'Personal Biography', 'Gender Identity and Construction', 'Feelings and Beliefs', 'Love, Relationships and Sexuality', 'Anger, Bullying, Depression and Violence', 'Risk Taking', 'Stillness, Meditation and Relaxation', 'Communication' and 'Mentoring'. These groups are gender specific.
The culmination of the Year 9 program is The Abyss. This camp was highlighted in the Mercury education feature 12 January 2016, and the news report can be viewed here: The Abyss.
The Year 10 EMPOWER program revolves around spiritual, academic and social activities as the students of Year 10 make their interesting and challenging journey towards senior studies and responsibilities. The EMPOWER program focuses on activities which are directed towards study skills, time management, careers guidance and subsequent subject selection for the TCE. Significant time is devoted to examination techniques and completion of the necessary paperwork for the School Certificate. Attention is directed to both emotional and academic preparation and the reduction of anxiety levels through the use of motivational speakers and class activities.