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Here at Montgrove College, we are always seeking ways to foster a love of learning in our students. With our Year 12 class preparing for their HSC examinations this year, some of their teachers had an idea for a bit of competitive fun. Ms Aguilar was generous enough to take some time to answer a few questions for us. Read her answers below!


Hi Macy! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us. Why don’t we start with a quick introduction?


Hello, my name is Macy Aguilar. I am an HSIE and Religion Teacher, Mentor and the Year 12 Class teacher for 2023.


Where did the idea of a competition come from?


Since Term 4 last year, the current Year 12 class have been using the Optimal Work Program. It is a program based on behavioural psychology and neuroscience research that helps individuals build practical strategies to overcome anxiety and distraction, and attain higher performance and personal growth. After the disruptions and combination of online and face-to-face learning in the past few years, we really wanted to help the students rebuild good study habits and routines.

The Optimal Work Program takes the students through practices like the Golden Hour and reframing to much simpler but essential habits like exercising regularly and waking up on time. It was developed by Dr Kevin Majeres, a world-renowned psychiatrist who has researched and worked for the Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and the Beck Institute in Philadelphia.

The program's mission is to help people realise greater excellence and fulfilment in their work and personal lives by learning how to embrace challenges.

At the beginning of the year, we really wanted the girls to get excited about their final year of school. We want to encourage them to keep working hard, making progress and working through the Optimal Work Program. The idea was that by the time they get to the actual HSC examinations, they would be well-prepared, confident and ready to do their best. Hence, came the competition.


So how does the competition work?


We put the students into groups where they encourage each other to work through the Optimal Program and complete as many Golden Hours within the week as a group and individually. A Golden Hour is an hour of work designed to help you achieve 'flow', which is a state of effortless attention, our highest state of focus and being fully engaged in the present moment. Consisting of several steps, it has been proven to help countless individuals get the most out of their work. You can find more information on their website or by listening to their podcast: The Golden Hour

At the beginning of the week, each group tallies the number of golden hours they completed and puts it up on the class tally board. So far, there is no way of knowing who will win at the end of the term but the students have been very enthusiastic and a little competitive. It's great to see the students make good progress with their study habits, work together and have fun!

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