Transitions as empowerment opportunities presented by Kathryn Hopps and Geri Sumpter.
Geri SumpterGood afternoon, everybody. Very excited to be with you here, coming from Canberra today, joining you for day two of our Be You Virtual Conference. Our conference is all around Empowerment: Keys to Mentally Healthy Communities. And it's really around supporting learning communities to be confident, hopeful, and resilient.I'm very excited to be here today. My name is Geri Sumpter and I'm the Head of Be You Delivery at Beyond Blue. And I'm delighted to have here with me, Kathryn Hopps. Kathryn is a Be You Consultant with Early Childhood Australia, and Kathryn is here today, delivering today's keynote on Transitions as Empowerment Opportunities.So day two of our Virtual Conference has come around very quickly. So Kathryn, what a fabulous day yesterday. What are some of your reflections?
Kathryn HoppsYeah, it was a great day. It's really hard to choose any highlights, but a couple of quotes really stand out for me. So one was right up front and it was from Julia Gillard, and she said that change doesn't happen from being timid. And then later on David Wild in his session also said, sometimes empowerment looks like being vulnerable. So it really reminded me, and that seemed to be a bit of a thread and theme through the conference, that sometimes making sure we don't disempower others, is that we need to challenge and feel a little bit uncomfortable ourselves and, and share, share and reflect on our practice to make sure that we are creating empowering environments.
Geri SumpterYeah, fantastic. And I think that's one thing that we do very much encourage through the conference as well, is that we do take stock of what's being said to us and we do stop and listen, and do that reflection and with that reflection comes growth. So, absolutely fantastic.Some of my highlights, it was really for me, the first session that we had with Professor Helen Milroy, when Professor Helen was talking around really unpacking what empowerment meant, and giving us that real foundation on which to grow from through the conference, and understanding what that means for learning communities and for individuals within there, and also for those children within those learning communities as well. So very powerful start to the conference.And as we do get started today, I would like to Acknowledge that I'm meeting on the land of the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. And as a conference with national reach, I'd also like to Acknowledge Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, waterways and community.And these last two days have been absolutely fantastic, we've had people joining us from all around the country, and even from overseas. We've had people connecting from the USA, and other such far flung lands. And I'd also encourage everybody to pop the lands that they are joining us from into the discussion forum today. I'll be able to see that coming through as chat.Now yesterday, we did have the pleasure of having Julia Gillard providing us with that overview and that video introduction, and today we've got another special guest to join us, and that is Kurt Fearnley.So Kurt Fearnleyis going to give us his thoughts around Be You and around empowerment.Kurt FearnleyHey everyone. It's Kurt Fearnley here. Welcome to day two of the Be You Virtual Conference.If I can Acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Land in which I am on, which is Awabakal Land, and also introduce myself as somebody who is proudly born and bred in Wiradjuri Country.As you would have heard from yesterday's impressive lineup of speakers, it takes a village to build resilience.Today's sessions will delve further into the ways that you can put theory into practice. We'll look at the tools and resources we can use to empower children of all ages and abilities. We'll also explore how we can build a resilient learning community as a whole.As a kid, I was fortunate enough to have some incredible teachers in my village. Along with my parents, these educators played a pivotal role in building my resilience and empowering me to make sure that I could overcome all of the challenges that would confront me in my journey. And it also allowed me to grow into the person that I am today. They had such a profound impact on me and how I approach my life that I would actually become a teacher myself.A number of the sessions today are on inclusion, something that was fundamental to my empowerment. From my Principal at Carcoar Public, who made sure that I got to go to school with my brothers and sisters instead of a school nearly an hour away from my home. And also another teacher in Blayney High, who spent her lunchtimes calling around to find a spot for me in Wheelchair Sports New South Wales. She actually brought wheelchairs out to my school and put all of my peers in wheelchairs and showed me an even playing field that, well it just changed the way that not only my school saw me, but how I saw myself.As education professionals, we have the ability to be part of a village that empowers, not only for students, but also for our fellow educators, professionals and community members. We can take tools like the ones my teachers shared with me and build a resilient learning community that lets people feel safe enough to take chances, brave enough to make mistakes and resilient enough to get up, dust themselves off and keep pushing ahead.I really hope you enjoyed day two of the Be You Virtual Conference, and wish you all the best for the rest of the year.
Geri SumpterWow, fantastic. What a story!
Kathryn HoppsAbsolutely, Geri, and I think it really shows that decades on, those memories of what teachers did are really powerful. And Kurt's really reminded us that the things we do today, as educators, really build children's resilience for the now, but, well into the future.
Geri SumpterYeah, absolutely, as well and that impact of those educators on his circumstance, just by having that inclusive nature in the way that they went around their work and thought about what would be beneficial for him in his circumstance, as well as for I'm sure sort of with his family and siblings, as well, with some of that story of making sure they could all be together and be in that community together. As well as sort of really teaching others within that community what it means to that person and showing them from that other lens as well, walking in those shoes. Absolutely amazing.So I hope you all enjoyed that. And as we go into the conference I just want to say that we do aim through the conference to provide a safe space for such discussions around sort of personal wellbeing. And I think Kurt's story really leads itself well into helping us to set that sense for today.So as part of making a virtual safe space, we do want to really encourage you to use that discussion forum and that Q and A function to put your comments and thoughts out there for other people to see. But in doing so, please consider people's confidentiality and privacy throughout these sessions when you're using those forums.Now, we're also recognising that you've taken the time out of your busy days to join us today, and that hearing about, talking about mental health and wellbeing can sometimes present challenges for people. So, wanting to make sure that you're looking after yourself as you're going through this journey with us, and really thinking about what you need to make this a safe space for yourself, as well as for others.So on the screen there you will see one of our Be You resources, which is a document that allows us to share some of the key airways you can go to for mental health supports and services. And if that's something that you need today, please take note of that resource. It will be there in that discussion forum for you to see as a link. But also as you're going through today's session, if you need to take a break, please do so. Stand up, do some stretches, we all need that at times. If you need to chat someone else, call out to a trusted friend or a colleague, or think about those support services as you go about your day as well.So Be You is obviously an initiative I'm really proud to be part of, and I'm sure you're the same, Kathryn. It is the national mental health and education initiative. It's there for educators, it's built with educators and Be You is the organiser of the conference today. Be You is delivered by Beyond Blue on behalf of the Australian government, and we're very privileged to have incredible delivery partners in Headspace and Early Childhood Australia. The initiative is completely free. It's available to every educator in every early learning service and school in Australia. And it really is around equipping educators to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people and their own mental health. And we heard in the session yesterday around educator wellbeing, it's really important to look after yourself in these spaces, as well as being there to support others. Our vision across Be You is that every learning community is positive, inclusive and resilient, really focusing on the topic of this conversation today, and a place where every child, young person, educator and family can achieve their best possible mental health.Now we do like to be practical in the way that we go about sharing learning in this space and our discussions throughout the day will highlight our Be You resources, our tools, our professional learning, to show you how Be You can really support a whole school and whole service approach to mental wellbeing in a really practical and actionable way. And that's one of the real strengths that our be you consultants bring to the initiative is helping the translation of everything that we bring through our resources and it's bringing it to life for individuals as well as for that whole of learning community approach.So the Be You team will be there to respond to any questions you may have as you start to see things throughout the sessions, ao please use the Q and A function or the discussion forum to give us your take or your questions on what's happening throughout the day.So yesterday's conference really talked about empowerment and what empowerment and resilience means to each of us, those barriers and facilitators to empowerment and how empowerment impacts on mental health and wellbeing. And today is really around exploring the tools and resources and putting them into action, so fostering empowering learning environments, and the amazing range of presentations that we're going to see throughout today are going to give us those really great practical examples that I was just talking to.And we've got, kicking this off, we've got our keynote from Kathryn, which is really going to show us all around those transitions and those opportunities to demonstrate resilience.And then you'll have a bit of a choose your own adventure. You can go into what we call in our consecutive sessions, which will be tailored to different learning settings, those educational settings. So you'll be able to refer to your conference platform on the portal, and you'll be able to see which session most speaks to you, choosing your own adventure as I just mentioned.I now have the very great pleasure of going into a little bit more detail about Kathryn. So Kathryn, as I mentioned, is a Be You Consultant at Early Childhood Australia. She really supports early learning services with those mentally healthy transitions, and she was a former early child and primary teacher herself. She's worked in a very diverse range of education settings and comes along with a great set of knowledge to translate to us today as well. She's an Adjunct Research Associate at Charles Sturt University and her research expertise really is in transitions. And it's those transitioned to school and school age care with a specific focus on communication between educators.So Kathryn will be highlighting the many ways transitions can be empowering, what the challenges are and how to navigate them across the early childhood to school space. So a great big welcome to you, Kathryn. Thank you.
Kathryn HoppsThank you very much, Geri, for a wonderful welcome. And it's great to be invited to talk about my passion topic of transitions, but today look at it through an empowerment lens. And as Geri said, I'm a Be You Consultant with Early Childhood Australia, and I've got a background as a transitions researcher and as a former early childhood and primary teacher.I'm actually based on Ngunnawal Country here in Canberra, and I'd like to pay my own respects to the Elders of this Land, the ancestors and then Ngunnawal children and young people who are going to be our future leaders. And I'd also like to Acknowledge my own connections to Wiradjuri, Awabakal and Wonnarua Lands and a big shout out to anyone joining us today from those particular Lands.So we're going to begin by looking at a bit of a map of where I'm going to be taking you today in this keynote. So firstly, I'm going to define transitions and distinguish the particularly from sudden one-off events and consider why they're important opportunities for empowerment. We'll then look at the many ways educators and learning communities can empower children, families and educators during times of transition.And next I'm going to make visible some of the specific challenges to empowerment for transitions. And in the last section as Geri said, we're very practical here, I'm going to provide a variety of examples of how we can plan for empowering transitions in practice.So just a couple of notes right up front here, that in Be You families is actually a really inclusive term and we use it to refer to parents, carers, grandparents and kin who care for a child or young person.And when we say learning communities, this refers to whole of school, early learning or school age care services.If you've got any questions for me throughout the presentation, if you could pop those into the live Q and A box for when we have a little bit of time at the end, that'd be great.So today I'm going to be focusing on transitions between and within education settings, but there are also many other life transitions during childhood and adolescence, such as the birth of a sibling, becoming a teenager or moving to a new community. For transitions in education setting, there's two types that have been identified in the research. So horizontal, and vertical transitions.So, what are these? Well vertical transitions are those that occur between education levels, such as transition from early learning to school, from primary to secondary school or starting in school age care. And if we think about Bronfenbrenner's bioecological theory, which is one of the core concepts upon which Be You is actually based, transitions between settings are about people, process, context and time. And time is really key in distinguishing transitions, from changes which might result from sudden or one off events. So vertical transitions, don't begin and end, for example on a child or young person's first day at school, they extend over many weeks, months and sometimes even years. And transitions are in this way also very different from orientation and they're more than knowing who and where things are, but they're actually about relationships, belonging, identity and positive engagement in a new education setting.So going back to horizontal transitions, so what are these? Well, they're actually transitions that occur across a single point in time, such as within one day. For example, a child going from home to school, then from school to school age care, and then home again. Or movement between different blocks of time, such as mealtimes and lessons at school, or moving between indoor and outdoor learning environments in early learning and school age care. And often children experience both these horizontal and vertical transitions together, and sometimes, but not necessarily always, multiple transitions can bring additional challenges and stress.What has been well established in research and in practice is that transitions are key times to support wellbeing. They bring both opportunities and challenges, continuity and change. And those opportunities in transitions include opportunities for empowerment. The focus of my keynote today is on transitions between settings, so those vertical transitions. But the horizontal transitions are also important.So right now, I invite you now to share with others that you might be attending together with at your place today or share in that live online discussion box some of the smaller transitions that children and young people at your place experience within a single day. I'm just going to pause for a moment to allow you to do that.So why are transitions important times for empowerment? Well, empowerment is particularly important during transitions because these are key times for the establishment of a sense of belonging, of connection and identity, and these beginnings can really set the tone for how children and young people, their families and educators feel about that new setting, how they see their place in it, and these early experiences really influence ongoing engagement.For all people during transitions to new settings, they're learning: is this a place where I'm empowered or disempowered? For children, they're learning: is this a place where I experience autonomy and agency, or is it governed and structured completely by adults? For families, they're learning: is this a place where I will have a say in decisions about my child? And for educators: is this a place where my expertise, knowledge and contributions are sought, valued and acted upon? When we empower our children and young people, their families and educators, this gives them a greater sense of control of their transition experience, which has a positive impact on their mental health.Sometimes we hear the word smooth when we talk about transitions. So a smooth transition. And we might strive to smooth out all the bumps and support is important, particularly for children and families who may find transitions extra tricky. However, we know from research that children, for example, expect that primary school will be different from early learning, that secondary school will be different from primary school. And we also know from research that children and young people experience empowerment from the opportunities provided by changes and also in navigating the challenges. So experiencing challenges, with support if needed, and having the chance to learn and apply different skills, such as making new friends, catching a bus or learning how to follow a timetable and experiencing a bump or two on the way, is a key way that children and young people develop resilience.One particular point I'd like to draw attention to is that transitions are also the chance for creation of new identities. For example, as a member of a group of children attending early learning. as a school or college student, as a parent of a school child. And this chance for a fresh start for people can be an empowering opportunity. So I ask you to consider, if we smooth the way too much and take out all of the challenges, what might be lost from transitions as opportunities for empowerment?So how can we provide empowerment opportunities during transitions? Fundamentally, we can empower through creating a sense of safety and wellbeing. So developing a child, a young person's sense of security and belonging, of connection and success is absolutely vital. And during transitions, young people and children are determining as Stig Broström would say, he's a Danish transitions researcher, children are thinking about am I suitable in this education setting? Can I succeed at the activities, learning experiences and relationships here? Is this a safe place for me? For families, they're considering does my child or young person's wellbeing matter in this education setting? And the most fundamental aspect of empowerment is physical, psychological and emotional safety, and we can empower people through creating safe environments that attend to everyone's wellbeing, including children and young people, families and educators.We can also empower through the provision of information. So people who feel informed and provided with information can participate in transitions more confidently. And here we really need to think about children and young people too. And that this is not something extra to do, but it's a legal right. And a rights perspective is going to be further explored by Carmen and Claire and their session coming up next at the conference.We can empower children and families with information about the new setting and with opportunities to meet the people in their new setting before their first day. And by providing many safe places to ask questions and seek clarification. We can also empower children and young people through active, meaningful participation in transitions.Transitions are best seen not as something that just happens to children and young people, but as a time in which they actively participate and influence their transition experiences. We can also empower through seeking and privileging other's views and voices. So those of children and young people, their families and other educators as well. Children and young people, in particular, have a right to have a say in matters that affect them, including in their transitions.We can also empower through relationships. So including partnerships with other educators, with families, and children and young people themselves. And this is often in the context of relationships where people feel either empowered or disempowered. We can also empower through building and enabling skills for resilience. So resilience is a key disposition that supports transitions. We can empower our children and young people with the knowledge, the skills and the confidence to seek help, express their feelings and needs, and make choices and participate in decision-making. We can empower children through supporting a growth mindset, through self-efficacy and a sense of optimism and hope for the future. These all apply to families and educators as well.Now let's look a little bit closer at a couple of ways to empower during transitions. So children and young people's meaningful participation in a setting also enables their skills for resilience. And when we plan for and embed opportunities for meaningful participation, children will feel comfortable in a new setting to use their knowledge, skills and confidence that they've already been empowered with in other settings.So, for example when a child or young person has been empowered in one education setting to develop and apply help seeking skills, whether they'll actually use these skills in the new setting they're moving into depends on whether they feel empowered or disempowered to use them in that new setting. And the quote on the slide is from our Empower module and it summarises this point really nicely. "Fostering an empowering environment where children feel heard and respected can also enable them to feel comfortable seeking support when needed."I'd like to pause now again and invite you to share in the live online discussion box or with the colleagues that are sitting beside you today, to share an opportunity that you provide children or young people that you work with an opportunity to feel heard and respected during times of transition. So we might be familiar with terms such as child's voice or student voice, depending on the setting you work with, but what opportunities do you provide for children and young people to feel heard and respected during times of transition? I'm just going to pause to give you a moment to do that.Strong relationships also enable skills for resilience. So educators can empower children and young people with the ability to calm, the ability to recognise what their body and mind needs and when they are feeling dysregulated, and communicate these needs to others and engage in regulating practices. Empowering children and young people to take care of their own mental health. Empowering children and young people with your own calm and intentionally embedding opportunity to learn how to regulate with others through co-regulation is important during transitions, as they can be stressful times. I think Sybila yesterday talked a fair bit about self-regulation and co-regulation being empowering.And where does this really important work happen? Learning how to regulate? It happens in the context of relationships. As Billie Newton says, "having strong relationships with each of the children you work with will support co-regulation during transitions." And not just children, young people as well. So educators can also lend their calm and regulate with other adults, such as colleagues and families. There are many times where adults benefit from and can be empowered by co-regulation too.You can also empower through partnerships. So at the conference yesterday, Sonia and Sara spoke about empowering partnerships. And empowering partnerships during transition include partnerships with families and with other educators and education settings. There might also be partnerships with the wider community. And as Sonia and Sara talked about yesterday, partnerships are relationships where power is shared. And in relation to partnerships with other educators and education settings, empowerment includes opportunities for educators to share their expertise and have their expertise valued by educators in the new setting. And positive experiences with having knowledge and expertise valued is empowering for educators and conversely, when it's not, it's fundamentally disempowering.If we think about families specifically, the quote on the slide advocates that being respected as partners is an entitlement of families during times of transition. And transitions are a key time to build trust with families. One way to empower families is by using a strengths approach to challenges that might come up during transitions, where family strengths are drawn upon and families themselves actively involved in planning solutions and where there's shared decision-making.I'm going to pause again to share either in the live online discussion box there, or with your colleagues beside you, one way that you share power with families during times of transition.So gwe're going to move on here to talk about some of the challenges to empowerment during transition. And Louis and Sharyn yesterday highlighted some of these, like particularly power. And I wanted to mention today a few things which are particularly challenging during transitions.First one there I've got on the slide is lack of trust, and trust is really essential for empowerment. If you're trying to share power with someone who doesn't trust you, they aren't going to feel or be empowered. So without trust, for example, families won't feel that they can speak to educators about concerns relating to their child or young person's transitions.I also want to call out that there are a lot of system constraints.So these internal processes, administration rules, regulations and resourcing is often a barrier to planning for empowerment during transitions. For example, not being able to finalise in advance who will be the educator of each group or class can prevent the establishment of trusting relationships before a child or young person's first day in a new setting. And often some of the reasons for that are out of our control, but it's a definite barrier.As Louis and Sharyn yesterday particularly pointed out, power relations and positioning. So there's significant power relations between for example, families and educators, between educators and children and between and within education settings. Some of these are historical and some are heavily influenced by government and governance structures. But they are also influenced by our own professional identities. And closely related to power relations is positioning. So again, Louis and Sharyn talked a little bit about this yesterday, it's how we view and position children, families, other educators and ourselves impacts empowerment. Are we, as educators, always the experts? Or are we always, or sometimes learners too? What is the image of the child or young person that we have? An image of someone in need of support?Vulnerable? Disadvantaged? Or are children competent, capable experts on their own lives who have many strengths.We also have our own assumptions and biases and also system assumptions as well are challenges to empowerment. Some assumptions to challenge to enable empowerment are learning begins at school. Learning only happens in education settings. Children learn best at school. All children should attend an early learning service before school.Yesterday Sharyn also mentioned school readiness discourse, and this has traditionally put the responsibility for being ready for the next stage of education solely on children and young people without an equal or greater responsibility on educators and learning communities to be ready for children.And this can be disempowering for children when they're expected to have particular skills and comply with expectations. When the environment isn't equally responsive in enabling empowerment. So the readiness discourse is a definite challenge to empowerment in transitions.So how can we begin to navigate all these challenges? In relation to lack of trust, which might be a barrier, ongoing, respectful, reciprocal communication is the foundation to developing and maintaining trust. So Sara and Sonia talked a lot about this yesterday, so valuing and prioritising communication, not just for providing information or seeking information from others, but equally valuing it for building and maintaining relationships as a key way to build trust. And relationships are at the heart of transitions. It's in relationships with others that we can seek to address the power relationships and positioning that's traditionally been a barrier to empowerment.We can also bring into our consciousness and be self-aware of biases and assumptions. And we can do this by being curious, by being brave and challenging the status quo and looking at whether the way we've always done things with transitions is still the best way. We can consider who is empowered, and who at the same time could be disempowered by transition practices. For example, if we only ever provide opportunities for children to express their feelings, thoughts and ideas with oral language, who is empowered and who is disempowered by this?When families or children assert their rights and empowerment, these are really key times for reflection. So for example, if a family doesn't want to have information passed from one setting to another about their child and believes that they have the power to say no and not provide consent, is there something in the potential discomfort of this for educators that is in fact, a positive sign that families and children feel empowered during transitions.So to best support children and young people, as our Be You Empower module says,we can show that children and young people are valued worthy of respect and have rights, that we view them as capable, we understand the active contributors and decision-makers, that we acknowledge they have independent thoughts, ideas, and feelings, and require ongoing opportunities to express these and be listened to.There are also times where we will need to advocate. Leading education experts such as Peter Moss, strongly advocate disrupting school readiness discourses and power relations by being ready for children and families and by providing empowering environments for all. And often this type of advocacy will start at the local level with your own colleagues and learning community, but it might grow into advocacy at the broader system level.So now let's move on and look at some practical examples of planning for empowerment in different education settings. We're going to begin with primary school transitions. Primary schools who provide many opportunities for children and families to receive information about not only their new physical school environment, routines and expectations, but also information that makes connections between key people and providing this before the first day of school really empowers children and families to confidently navigate the transition to primary school, which is a significant one. One of the key practices that is empowering is making connections with the educators who will be keeping children safe. So for a child and their family who will be keeping the child safe. So particularly meeting their classroom teacher before the first day. And the other really important thing that's empowering is assisting to connect families with each other.Examples of empowering practice include prioritising the appointment of first year of school teachers and providing in-person and virtual two way getting to know you meetings for every child and family with their classroom teacher. And from these practices, families feel empowered that the primary school values their child's wellbeing, values the family's expertise about their child and wants to make, and the family will know then, that the school wants to make shared decisions about a child's wellbeing and learning.Primary schools can also empower families and children with information by including like on demand, open access resources on their website, available to access any time. So things like 360 degree tours of the school, first year of school classroom greeting videos from teachers and students and other transition information, so that families and children can access that when they need it. And when transitions are the focus at primary schools beyond orientation, the information that empowers families and children is planned for on a long-term and ongoing basis.Let's move on now to early learning service transitions. So early learning services can empower children and families when they first start in the service, when there are, and also when there's transitions from one group to another, by working together with families on formal transition plans. So when we take the time to plan transitions for individual children together with families, this empowers families with the confidence that their child and their own wellbeing is a priority at this time.So for example, educators and families can plan scripts and rituals for transitions, which may include empowering a baby, toddler or preschooler to choose a transition object or toy to bring from home into the service each day to provide a connection between those settings and also to provide comfort. And educators together with families can come up with some consistent words to use at arrival and departure times, such as the parent saying, "Mummy's going to work now. Denise will be looking after you and keeping you safe." And the educator replying, "I'll be looking after Maisie and keeping Maisie safe now.Maisie, would you like to hold my hand and cuddle your bunny blanket?" So in this example of working together on scripts and rituals, both the child and the family are empowered by this transition planning, including that the family has actually gained, in a trusting relationship with educators, some strategies that they can use at other transition times.So moving on now to secondary school transitions. We can empower young people through student voice and leadership opportunities. A practical example of this is the establishment of a specific student led transitions team. So this could be led by young people from year groups you might not usually have formal positional leadership opportunities, such as grade nine and 10. As well as later year students supporting newer students, the transition team could have responsibilities for planning, for implementing and also evaluating or reviewing transition programs and activities. And they could actually lead the way in welcoming new students when they arrive at the school or college. Not just those who start at the beginning of the year, so whenever they arrive.We know from research that when a young person is connected to friendly and welcoming older students at secondary school this supports their positive transition. Since student led transition teams that are in an empowered position to ensure that the social aspects of transitions are paid attention to from a student voice perspective, which may include the organising of social activities for new students. And being on that student led transition team, this empowers young people with a leadership opportunity, with self-efficacy in supporting others and with the knowledge that their perspectives are respected and valued in the learning community.For new school starters, they're empowered by having key peers to support them through their transition, with opportunities to develop a sense of belonging beyond their particular year group and also that beyond their first day, their experiences at that school are valued, sought, and responded to in evaluating transition programs for future new students.Another example of practice is for children and for young people who have a developmental delay or disability. So another kind of transition team, which is also particularly crucial, is one which includes the young person's family, the young person themselves, educators from the relevant feeder primary school and secondary school staff, including any inclusion support staff. So these teams are really essential for collaboration and student led transition planning.Educators from the feeder primary school settings and families can be empowered in these teams to share their knowledge and expertise about the young person's strengths, interests, challenges, as well as their specific learning and care needs. And they're empowered to share in that decision making. The young person themselves are also empowered with some control over their transition experiences. And also with a sense of continuity that there's connections between their education settings.And finally let's move on to some practical examples in school age care. So in case you're not familiar with the term, this is an inclusive term used to describe before and after school care and vacation care programs.So in these settings, we can empower children by including their unique perspectives in developing welcoming practices. An example of this is tours of the service led by children for children. So giving responsibility in a leadership opportunity to children to determine what parts of the physical environment to show and to speak about on a tour for new children and their families is empowering. As well as the opportunity to show care and demonstrate empathy for how children might feel when they first start at the school age care service.New children are empowered with this opportunity with not only some experience of the physical environment and routines, but also the names and faces of the children who'll lead the tours. And with the knowledge about the service from a child's perspective.And actually in Sara and Sonia's session yesterday, there was something that was said that helped me think about this as well, actually asking the new child what they would like to see or know about the service would actually help to empower the new child as well. And that tour can be customised to what the new children would like to know, and the tour will be guided by that as well.So families are empowered also by these child led tours with the knowledge and confidence that their child feels more confident about this transition and that families are also empowered knowing that the service values children's perspectives, and I think that's very reassuring.So coming towards the end of the keynote now, and I've got a couple of reflective questions that you could take back to your learning communities. You might like to take these back to your Be You Action Team. Or if you work in a wider transition network, these questions might assist with planning for empowerment. So, how are we currently empowering children, families and educators during times of transition? What are the challenges we need to navigate? And what further opportunities can we create?So what next? What's your next step to empowering transitions? What actions will you take after this session? We'd love for you to share in the chat box, the live online discussion box, or encourage you to do that with the people attending with you today.One of your next steps could be to take a deeper dive in transitions with Be You and we have a lot of resources where you can learn more about mentally healthy transitions, empowerment and partnering with families. For example, we have a couple of transitions In Focus webinars, including Understanding transitions in the context of disaster, recovery and resilience. We've got a suite of transitions fact sheets with a range of titles, including transitions for babies and toddlers, and also transitions from secondary school. We've got three partnering with families professional learning modules. And we've also specifically got one module which is called Empower in the Learning Resilience domain of our framework. And you may have heard of recently our new Disability Inclusion Guide. And if you'd like to continue this conversation with me about mentally healthy transitions and empowering transitions, we've also got a Be You conversation on 30 June at 9.30am, Australian Eastern Standard Time, and the lovely people in the, the chat moderators for this session were going to pop a link to that session. So it's an one hour session, Be You conversation on the 30 June.And that really brings me to the end of my keynote. I would like to particularly thank headspace Consultant Amy Connellan for her advice regarding transitions in the secondary school context. And that's it for me, thanks Geri.
Geri SumpterOh, that was fantastic. Thank you, Kathryn. And that's really so much to reflect on and resonate with in there. And particularly I've had a daughter transitioning from primary to secondary school this year and really reflecting on what that's meant for us, and I think one of the key things that has stood out for me in there is that it is all around that tripartite around the children, the families and the educators. And what you said around the belonging, the connection and the identity in that new setting is important for all of those three parties, and I think that's something that's perhaps not always thought through well enough or, especially from a families perspective, the important role that the families play in this.And I loved how you talked about empowerment from those opportunities provided by that change. And again, reflecting on my own child, she's just gone into high school and just seeing the world open up for her and the empowerment that she's found in that setting. And I'm thinking about the support that she's had from the school and from the student led empowerment team in that setting as well which really made that a very satisfying and empowering experience for her. She's really seen that as the world being her oyster.The other thing that really stood out for me was around empowerment through co-regulation, and lending your calm. And, I think, again, that's something that I've seen practiced very well in certain settings and not so well in others, and thinking about the difference that that makes when you've got those calm presences around which send instils great skill building for the children and young people in those settings as well.So that's my reflection. I'm sure there's plenty that everybody in the audience today has been thinking about in relation to this too. So I'd love to get into some questions.So we've got a question in the chat, and one is around do you have any suggestions for parents wanting more empowerment with their child's school?
Kathryn HoppsYeah, that's a really great question. So I have spoken to a few parent groups about starting primary school in particular. And I think that going back to the slide where I, there was a quote on there where it says basically it's an entitlement of families to feel respected as partners in their children's education. So if you approach a school with that in mind that, you know, I'm entitled to be a partner in my child's education, then you, when you're inquiring for information, you can expect that that will be followed up.Also, for families learning about, and learning from educators, your child's early learning service educators if they're moving on to primary school, they are a really great key contact to learn about things like, "oh, I'd really like to support my child's help seeking skills," for example, "I don't feel really confident that they would know how to ask for help at school." So actually having conversations with educators, for example, in early learning and say, I'm really interested to know how you support, help seeking school skills here at your service. And with that information, a family can feel more empowered that they can assist, and they have that sort of conscious awareness of the things that I do and the opportunities I provide for my child are really building their skills. And a family would then feel confident in knowing that they're setting their child really up for success in terms of skills, like being able to ask for help when they start. And those skills will transfer into life situations, not just education settings.So as educators, we have a key role in helping families feel empowered by sharing the ways that we do things in early learning or school or secondary school and building parents' confidence with "oh, yes. That is what actually what I do at home." And they can feel more confident with the knowledge about those things.
Geri SumpterThat's fantastic. And so thanks Katie for that question. And I'm loving we've got a comment from Jessica, who's saying we've offered for families to come and volunteer at the school, so they're available on site to help support and co-regulate children if needed. So lots of different ways, and I'm sure there's more examples in the discussion forum as well, that are bringing out some of these beneficial ways that we can do these things.So I think we'll have time for one more question in there. So Jennifer's put a question in saying, do we need to teach students that transitions can often feel uncomfortable, but that the flip side is there can also be great opportunities to develop and participate and provide a positive experience?
Kathryn HoppsI think having those open conversations about how it feels when you start at somewhere new. So even this week, I've been talking to my own daughter about going on the school bus for the first time. And it's like, it's gonna feel uncomfortable and unsure at the beginning, because really don't know what that's like. And when children feel like talking about feelings is on the table for discussion, we can really support with their mental health. So I do think it is important to recognise and acknowledge and share your own even mixed feelings at those times of transition, that that's all normal and expected and reminding children and young people of other transition times in their life where they have perhaps felt that same way, and then how did they feel after the first day and after the first week? So reminding them when they have successfully navigated transition before, will again validate and acknowledge that those feelings are normal, many people feel them and these things are comfortable for adults to discuss as well.
Geri SumpterYeah, fantastic. And like I said, I think she is just going to want to get that empowerment from going on that school bus moving forward from your daughter's example.Now we are at the end of our session, so I am going to wrap up. So we want to encourage you to learn more about Be You. There's lots of ways you can do this. You can register as a whole learning community, if you've not done so so far, you can visit our website and you can also follow our social media so there's plenty on there to keep you interested and engaged and entertained.Up next we are going into our concurrent sessions, as I mentioned previously. There's three for you to choose from depending on your education setting, I'm sure you will all enjoy what you choose from. And just to make sure that you're aware that there will be recordings of these sessions available in about four weeks on our website, so everybody will be able to come back and watch your session again, Kathryn, as it has been absolutely fantastic.So I'm sure you will all join me in thanking Kathryn for that absolutely fantastic session. Really great information, advice, and loads for us all to learn from. So thank you very much.I encourage you all now to take a break, go and get yourself a quick cup of tea or something to eat and some water. And we'll look forward to joining you in our next session. So go back to the portal, choose where you're going, choose that own adventure, and we'll look forward to seeing you next time. Thank you very much.
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Transitions as empowerment opportunities
Last updated: July, 2022