Dalton in the Final Year – Planning, Balance, Reflection and Connection
Allegra Carlton and Mimi Perkin are keenly aware of how important it is to manage their wellbeing, just as much as their HSC workload, during their final year at School. Fortunately for these two students, and indeed their peers, the Dalton Plan has taught them to take responsibility for their learning. But how does the Dalton Plan relate to wellbeing? The relationship between the Dalton Plan and fostering a healthy sense of positive wellbeing is an important one. As Mimi and Allegra are our current Co-Heads of Wellbeing, they are in a perfect position to explain.
‘The Dalton Plan provides structure for each student but also enables flexibility to cater to one’s own needs,’ they said. It is this finely balanced combination of structure and flexibility that can be incredibly empowering when managing a demanding workload, co-curricular activities, as well as personal and family responsibilities. Allegra and Mimi help the student body understand that feeling well and doing well is personal, and that each student can make the choices around what nourishes their own wellbeing.
‘We recognise everyone has different definitions of wellbeing and what makes them feel good. Understanding the activities, hobbies and sports that make you happy is helpful in allowing you to balance academic demands. Being aware that we can only ever do our best, and our best is good enough, keeps us motivated and academically buoyant,’ the students added.
The ability to plan effectively is fundamental to successfully managing competing demands while at School as well as in later life. ‘The Dalton Plan helps us practise goal-setting every week in Assignments, which is a beneficial transferable skill that greatly benefits our wellbeing,’ said Allegra and Mimi. Both students also believe that the strong relationship formed between teachers and students at Ascham, which encourages regular communication and consistent collaboration (yet another Dalton Pillar!) can be particularly helpful when students feel overwhelmed. With immediate access to the teachers who can help them, they can quickly resolve problems or go over difficult subject matter, moving more smoothly through the curriculum.
Maintaining a balance of activities is also very beneficial to maintaining positive wellbeing. ‘Students are taught how to be aware of their own personal wellbeing needs and how to balance their workload and co-curricular activities, whilst also coping with any hardships as they arise. It is important so we can do our best in our work and have energy for all our other activities that balance out our work,’ said Mimi. Both students agree that establishing a routine that includes a balance of physical activity, spending time with friends and family and working hard academically, works best for them.
The importance of self-awareness and taking a proactive approach to managing one’s mental health also come into play with yet another Dalton pillar—reflection. Mimi and Allegra say that the practice of reflection, taught to them at an early age, means they ‘take time to think and reflect on how we are feeling, how we cope with situations, and perhaps what we can do differently next time.’
Ascham’s Vi et animo Wellbeing Framework supports a philosophy of balance and reflection, with a wide range of activities that cater to all students’ needs as individuals. Building a culture of connection between different Year groups is key. Weekly meetings, camps, activity days, Sisters groups, sports carnivals, and House Festival all create School spirit, enabling students to feel connected and a foster a sense of belonging.
‘When we work together to achieve something together, we feel more connected,’ said the students. Mimi also mentioned the connection she feels with the wider Ascham Old Girls’ community. ‘Being able to walk through Glenrock in between classes and see my mum, aunty, grandma and great-grandma’s names written on the plaques brings a smile to my face,’ she said. ‘It makes me feel as though I belong in this great Ascham family.’
Julia Ridhalgh (AOG 2019) and Skye Barry (Edwards 1994)
Pictured above: Allegra Carlton and Mimi Perkin, Year 12 Co-Heads of Wellbeing