In comparison with other survey participants across Canada, our students continue to exceed national results in several important areas of student life:
feeling safe at school;
having positive friendships;
experiencing a sense of belonging;
participation in clubs and sports;
effort in school;
feeling challenged by their class work;
positive behaviour in class.
Two areas identified in the survey results as areas for improvement were developing positive homework and study habits, and students seeing what they do here at school as relevant to their lives and the real world. Both of these areas will receive ongoing attention from our teachers in their class routines and course planning.
This survey also allows students to assess their overall sense of well-being and indicate if they are feeling anxious, sad or depressed. Generally, our students are doing well, as our results in this area are in line with national norms. However, we are aware that high levels of stress or depression among teens, especially girls, is a worrisome trend. This point was evident in a recent CAMH survey examining teenage mental health.
We are doing several things here at school to support students who may be experiencing these challenges. We know that creating a predictable and supportive school environment for students helps keep stress and anxiety at manageable levels, so in these early weeks of school our teachers are ensuring that classroom routines are well-understood.
As part of our back-to-school professional development, our teachers participated in a one-day workshop on core counselling skills, which was facilitated by members of the Social Work department at Wilfred Laurier University. Kathryn Connelly, a member of our Success Centre team, is once again leading extracurricular discussion meetings for girls in Grades 8, 9 and 10. Lori Houzer, our school social worker, is available to students on Tuesday and Thursday each week.
I would also encourage parents to attend the presentation by Leonard Sax on November 9, as he will offer parents some advice on how they can support their children. This recent article from The Globe and Mail provides a useful perspective on why the results from surveys assessing teenage stress and anxiety might be overstated and outlines five ways parents can help their children develop healthy coping skills.