The importance of international school community wellbeing (pastoral care or wellness), has arguably never been more important than in the current global context. It is right that topics related to wellbeing, such as executive function, social-emotional learning, coping strategies or developing resilient mindsets, are at the top of international school agendas, particularly in light of the ever-evolving COVID pandemic. Wellness is, after all, essential to academic success.
So how can we ensure whole school community wellness, and staff and student wellbeing?
The International School Consultancy (ISC) Wellbeing Report 2021, shared findings from International educators in 109 countries who identified the most beneficial wellbeing support actions that schools can take for:
- Staff Wellness. These were identified as active support of colleagues, active support of the senior leadership team, staff group events, wellbeing activities organised by the school and resources enabling staff to have a voice about their wellbeing.
- Student Wellness. These were named as one-to-one time with teacher and student, specialist support, wellbeing-focused group events for students, regular wellbeing time scheduled into the timetable, and resources enabling students to have a voice about their wellbeing.
- A whole school approach for Wellness. These were pinpointed as parent training or guidance, events to specifically support wellbeing, wellbeing within the curriculum, better resources to give students or staff a voice about their wellbeing and extra curricular activities specifically to support wellbeing.
Spotlighted MiniPD Coaches experienced in pastoral care and wellbeing, and working in K-12 international schools and intercultural environments, share their insights below.
Ensuring Whole School Community Wellness
While Dr. Rima Puri explores Wellbeing During the Pandemic, Dawn Summerfield explores the Impact of Executive Functioning on the School Community, and highlights the role that self-regulation and organisation play in the wellness of staff and students. In her article, Incorporating SEL Into Your School Culture: The Challenges and Rewards, she invites whole school communities to consider taking steps for positive change. She explores the various reasons why a school community may want to invest in developing social emotional learning (SEL) for all its stakeholders.
Ensuring Staff Wellness
Teacher wellbeing is associated with better student wellbeing. However, 61% of teachers said they struggle to cope with the demands of their job once a week or less, while 73% considered COVID-19 as a significant challenge that increased their stress. (ISC Wellbeing Report, 2021). Enhancing and practicing executive function skills, and acquiring simple strategies can help educators maintain their own wellbeing. Anna Orr, in her article, Learning to Say No, invites us to consider how to say no to prioritize workload for improved wellbeing and a better work-life balance. On MiniPD’s October Promoting Wellness Calendar, international school leaders and teachers can find simple daily bite-size strategies, resources and actions that can support wellbeing, such as self-care, self-regulation, coping and stress reduction strategies. Educators may also want to consider making supportive connections with like minded educators using social media platforms, such as Twitter Slow chat #MiniPDchat, to share ideas to help maintain wellness.
Ensuring Student Wellness
Creating a supportive intercultural learning environment for student wellbeing and learning is an integral part of international school education. Marcelle Valladares explains the concept of Culturally Responsive SEL to ‘create compassionate classrooms that cultivate wellness in an equitable way’. One strategy, amongst others she suggests in her article, is to ‘dismantle the idea that emotions are good or bad.’ She writes, ‘all emotions just are. Often we equate pleasant emotions with being good and unpleasant emotions with being bad, when in actuality all emotions are important for informing us of what we need or want.’ Additionally, Sandra Pinzón Sànchez, provides her perspective, and highlights scaffolding techniques to manage cognitive load to impact wellbeing and learning of second language learners. In her article, written in Spanish, she highlights that ‘when approaching a class…educators need to establish a unified and practical mechanism within the classroom to determine the strategies applied to support cognitive development in the learning experience of second language learners.’
In order for our school communities, staff and students, to thrive, continuing to promote and ensure wellness is the responsibility of us all.
The MiniPD Team
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Want to learn more?
- Read more from Dawn Summerfield on her ManageBac blog post How to Foster Wellness in your International School Community
- Read the Activities Guide: Enhancing and Practicing Executive Functioning Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University.
- Read the International School Consultancy Wellbeing Report 2021 (sign in for access)
- Schedule one-to-one coaching sessions with MiniPD Coaches about Wellness!
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