Acknowledge, Adjust, Act, Apply, Achieve

As we start the 2021 Academic Year, we can be forgiven for thinking this could be 2020 2.0. After all, we’re in a 2nd Covid wave, we have online schooling (if only for 3 days to start with) and despite the holidays, many parents and students are feeling anxious, frustrated, tired, drained and sad.

From the BSU side we want to encourage you to start the year with a renewed sense of purpose. The skills we are learning now of resilience, empathy, perseverance, goal-setting, community connection and living life in balance have never been more relevant.

As parents and teachers we can model the good habits we would like our sons and students to practise as well. This model of the 5 A’s can help.

Acknowledge

Each grade will have different circumstances to acknowledge. For the new Grade 8s, there are lots of new experiences which can be both exciting and overwhelming. A new level of independence might be expected of them while at the same time they grapple with many new tasks. Grade 9s are no longer the juniors but are not yet seniors. They’re taking steps towards being more independent while still not having all the freedoms that they would perhaps like. Their peers, while more important than ever, are also focused inwards as they negotiate their own changes. Grade 10s are choosing their matric subjects and are coming to grips with the Senior Phase. More freedom, more work and more responsibility. The year culminates in the challenging 16-day Epic.

Grade 11s are becoming more confident in their emerging adult selves and applying the skills that they have gained over the past three years. The matrics are acknowledging that their year has, at last, come. They are the seniors of the school and want to finish well academically, personally and in terms of their leadership roles.

Adjust

During the tumultuous year that was 2020, everyone had to adjust their expectations of what was possible in restricted circumstances. Sport and most of the cultural programme was cancelled while we all became familiar with “flattening the curve”, social distancing and Covid protocols. Zoom calls and remote learning changed our perceptions of education and we also realised what works and doesn’t work for the different age-groups. This year we need to continue learning from our experiences as we adjust our perceptions, our motivation levels and our coping strategies.

Act

After all the reflection and acknowledgement, we need to start doing and re-establishing healthy routines. What is in your Resilience Toolkit? Regular exercise I hope as well as a sense of humour, mindfulness and creative thinking.

Apply

There are numerous apps on our phones to help us become more organized and plan better. Also to connect meaningfully. See the example below from motivational speaker Nikki Bush on creating your own personal “Vision Board”. We should also make use of more traditional “applications” such as mentors, counsellors, youth groups and coaches. Being part of supportive social media groups can also help enormously.

Achieve

“Out of difficulties grow miracles” said the French philosopher Jean de la Bruyere while Winston Churchill believed that “difficulties mastered are opportunities won”. This time of difficulties certainly presents many opportunities for achievement. Whether it be academic, fitness, cultural or personal, these goals are all the more valuable for being achieved during difficult times.

From the BSU side we will continue to engage and try new things as we seek to encourage and support learners and parents alike. Please reach out to us if you would like some help or even if you have something to share, or just want to engage about an issue that is important to you.

Example of Vision Board for 2021 from Nikki Bush