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Learnings from our Residential Program

– Rachel Curtis

In the context of Omicron our much anticipated Residential program at Trinity College has been rescheduled to later in the year and instead our Students came together online for a day long masterclass in January. With Year 11 focusing on community, building networks and belonging; our Year 12’s turned their attention on how to tackle the year ahead, finding balance, and identifying personal values paramount to themselves.

Wellbeing and mental health was also an overarching theme for both cohorts. It was fantastic to see Skyline students actively engage across the two days and enjoy the excitement of working within innovative programs including Miro, Slido, and canva. This was received well as evidenced by average scores of  9/10 on the student evaluation.

A key goal of this masterclass was to harness positive energy and promote a sense of community in a digital environment. What we know about students is that using technology is second nature to them, and often there is even a tendency to use multiple devices at once – particularly if one seems more entertaining in the other. Tapping into these tendencies, the Skyline team introduced our students to slido. An interactive app which students could respond to presentations and panels in real time, through scanning the custom QR code at the start of the session and sending in anonymous questions or responses as prompted.

The Skyline cohort could then see all responses projected onto the screen throughout the presentation. This was received incredibly well by students, and we saw a high level of engagement and excitement. As we remain agile in this digital environment, it reflects the growth we have seen in the Skyline program.

Notably, Skyline is actually harnessing what may have been  previously a challenge and instead using it as a tool to further engage our students. In this example, sometimes during remote learning students would use their mobiles during presentations and instead of fighting it, we encouraged them to do so! This kept the day fun and digitally innovative. Using programs like Slido also fosters a sense of community and reassurance amongst our students that they are not alone in this journey. Responses which were entered more than once (by different people) projected the words bigger and bigger on the screen so students could see that perhaps the way they were feeling was also felt by others.

For example, the screenshot below reflects our year 11s responses to the prompt ‘what are you most looking forward to today?’.You will notice that we had 68 responses, indicating the majority of the cohort was engaged and actively contributing to the session – as opposed to an extroverted 2 or 3 students who in the past were asked to bravely turn on their mic and respond to the question.  The infographic also reflects what answers were most popular and shared by a few students, in this case – many students identified meeting new people as the thing they were most looking forward to in the masterclass.

A highlight of the year 11 masterclass was the Alumni panel and opportunity to build connections. During the session, students heard the journeys of our Skyline alumni and could actively ask about  their experiences and hear from those who had walked in their footsteps. The popularity for the session was evidenced by the overwhelming amount of students who identified this as their favourite component of the masterclass, and also praised their Alumni leaders when prompted ‘what was your favourite part of the day’. See infographic below:

Here are some other highlights, as told by our year 11’s:
“The breakout group sessions were great as they allowed me to interact with other Skyline peers who were all friendly and “cool” people. It also allowed my to ask the breakout ‘leader’ certain questions that gave me a more coherent understanding of what to expect in my VCE studies.”

“I enjoyed the self care session as it showed me all the ways that I can better myself mentally.”

“I loved getting to know new people and hear different stories from everyone.”

A student favourite from our year 12 masterclass was the theme of self-care and using autonomy in their mental health and wellbeing journey. This session was led by Skyline social work intern (and now Program Manager Assistant) Isabella, who invited students to reflect on values and qualities they admire in others, and how they would like to better express them in themselves.

After a discussion about those they admire in their local community, Australia, and then more broadly overseas – students were than tasked with creating their own ‘self-care menu’ through which they could identify simple activities/strategies to use to prioritise their wellbeing. Students created the ‘menus’ using Canva – an intuitive graphic design program, which allowed them to personalise the activity to themselves by using colours, themes, and graphics which resonated with them. Many of our year 12’s particularly enjoyed this activity and it resulted in a tangible creative piece which they could print out and use in the future. Here is an example of a ‘self-care menu’ which was developed by Skyline for our students:

Some other highlights, as told by our year 12’s included:
“I most enjoyed the gratitude and self-care sessions, because they allowed me to gain insight into more of what I can do to better care for myself and help those around me to care for themselves.”

“Alumni story telling was my favourite because they really gave us some really useful tips and tricks to help combat burnout in year 12 which is something I think we are all currently worrying about.”

“I enjoyed getting to know everyone in the breakout rooms and getting to hear everyone’s view.”

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