James Busby High School – Dylan and Bethany
The students in this video demonstrate a range of indicators of high potential in the social-emotional domain. Learn how a school's explicit and systematic program identifies potential, using life-skills coaching and problem-solving to facilitate active student voice for talent development.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this video may contain the images, voices and names of people who have passed away.
Developing the social-emotional domain at James Busby High School
High potential and gifted education
James Busby High School is a local comprehensive high school in the Liverpool Network. We have a wonderfully diverse student population and we really focus on bringing the best out in each student.
Very often, students don't recognise their enormous potential and they don't see their self-worth. But when we let them know that we see that enormous potential in them and that we have high expectations and that we're here to support them and make sure that they achieve those high expectations, that makes such a significant impact in that young person's life.
Students with high potential in the social-emotional domain
They're students who really are guided by their moral purpose. They have leadership skills. They are charismatic individuals. They are students who are able to influence others and lead them. They have initiative and they care.
If you can assess someone's well-being and how they are in an emotional state, then you could really be a great leader at the school. Also, the confidence to stand up for what's right. Even if you're the only one standing.
They'll be nurturing, they'll take care of other students, but they also have a voice. So they might be the problematic student. They might be the student who will be the loudest in the classroom. They might be the student who might challenge you at times, or they might be the students that that is disengaged. But if you get them on side, you can actually have a huge cultural shift and cultural change.
The backstory is, year seven to year nine. I was a really bad kid. I didn't really listen. I swore, swore to teachers. I didn't do any work. At the end of year nine, I decided to might as well go for wellbeing Ambassador. I started getting pretty good at it. I started liking the feeling of doing good, going to classes, seeing the positive change in other students, myself and the teachers around me. I guess the words "you would make a great wellbeing ambassador" really stuck with me.
The Wellbeing Ambassador Program
When I first joined the program, I was very shy. I didn't usually like standing up in front of people, presenting a lot of the skills I didn't know I had. The Wellbeing Ambassadors helped me build on them, become more confident. I can do more public speaking. I can work with people I didn't know.
The Wellbeing Ambassador program develops students leadership potential in the social emotional domain by targeting different strengths for individual students. But we also make sure that we professionally develop their capacity. And we do that by using extracurricular programs that teach students how to be better problem solvers, how to develop a different perspective, how to think outside the box when it comes to issues, how to deal with conflict.
You go through all these processes that help you think. It really helped me be more confident in myself and in my skills and it helped me realize that even if my skills aren't so great, I can build on them and further develop them.
They have input in all facets of our schooling, whether it's curriculum, development, school improvement plan, behaviour management. Our students actually get to see the data, interpret it, and they get to problem solve along with staff.
Leadership and peer support
The other thing our wellbeing ambassadors do is resolve conflict with other students.
You're in these programs. We did one for becoming teen life coaches, which taught us all these skills when it comes to mediations and keeping the peace between people.
Some students don't like talking to teachers about their problems, their issues, so I try and reach out to them to give them that helping hand. I tried to be like a guidance try to be motivational for them.
Dylan's potential in the social emotional domain has developed considerably over the years in his participation in the program. He is somebody who we've watched grow and flourish as an individual.
See Dylan in particular, he just he's kind of our superstar at the moment.
He inspires our entire school community.
I actually had A year 8 say to me that, like, he looks up to me, he wants to be just like me. He wants to be captain and everything. I was like, Oh, wow. Okay. I guess I really am making a pretty big impact on some of the students.
Dylan just tries to be inclusive of everyone. Like he connects, like does the same thing connects with all the teachers, the students. He's just a very kind, caring person. He often forgets about himself and puts others in front.
Bethany also has a really positive rapport with students, and she's somebody who is inspiring. She's somebody who's thoughtful, considerate, and she really puts a lot of time and effort into other people. She can talk.
She talks to all the students. You can talk to all the teachers, everyone. She just puts her best foot forward for the school and for all the students that attend here.
Kids will come up to me if they have a problem and they'll ask me for advice. Ask me if I can help them. I think that's probably what I enjoy most about it.
Bethany and Dylan complement each other very well actually. There is this balance of leadership and they work cohesively and they share the responsibility. They're both very flexible and they're both reflective in their practice. Both her and Dylan have also mentored other students together and worked as a team to deescalate situations, to actually respond to conflict. And our students really respond to them because they see we have high expectations of them. And then there's high expectations of the students because they don't want to let their peers down either.
My plans next year is to come back to the school maybe as like an A SSO A student advisor, some sort of mentor.
We would like to employ him and have him continue in his role to influence both our students and our staff to see that when you have high expectations, you can actually make a positive influence in your community.
I feel like it'd be a good opportunity for me. I am. I have been helping the school a lot and I don't mind coming back to help again next year.
The program has had a positive impact on our school culture. It's helped to develop a positive sense of community within our school. I've definitely seen improvement in student academic performance. That sense of pride and achievement has definitely had a positive impact and that self-belief has really developed. The advice that I would give another school in setting up a program would be to listen to your students, to give them as much input as they possibly can and to tailor the program to your school setting.
We don't do out of the box, we do outside the box and that's when we see little magic happening here at James Busby High School.
Find the high potential
Develop the talent
Make the difference
© State of New South Wales (Department of Education), 2022
Questions for professional learning
For school leaders
How does your school assess and identify high potential in the social-emotional domain? Consider positive and counterproductive indicators of behaviour. What professional learning could you provide so teachers have high expectations for the full diversity of students in your school so they can confidently find high potential in this domain?
Many schools include public speaking skills in their criteria for leadership selection. How does this impact on students such as Bethany? Some indicators of high potential in the social-emotional domain include:
- social ease
Which of these criteria are currently considered in your leadership selection process? Are there others that could be included?
James Busby High School chose an explicit and deliberate program to develop talent in the social emotional domain for the student leadership team. What programs or processes do you have in place for your student leadership team? Are there other possibilities?
As part of the Wellbeing Ambassador Program, Dylan and Bethany interpreted school-wide data and contributed their student perspective to find solutions with teachers. How does your school currently use student voice? What elements of the Wellbeing Ambassador Program could be applied effectively to your context?
Sometimes students demonstrate indicators of high potential in the social-emotional domain as counterproductive behaviours. Can you think of any students who do this? How could you identify these students and facilitate their talent development?
The ability to think about an issue from different perspectives and problem solve is embedded in James Busby’s leadership program. How can these skills be explicitly taught in the classroom to facilitate talent development in the social-emotional domain?
Dylan talked about using student-to-student discussions for effective conflict resolution. What could you implement in your classroom to develop this skill to identify high potential and facilitate talent development in the social-emotional domain?