Recently the Alberta Health Services Zone 4 School Wellness Team hosted a conversation with wellness leaders (including district leaders, trustees, and wellness champions) to explore the ways in which we can create a culture of wellness in school jurisdictions. It was a wonderful, lively session and I was intrigued by the recommendations that the group had compiled by the end of our two-hour conversation.
Here are some of their staff-wellness recommendations:
- Promote balance. Be sure to limit the use of email outside of business hours. Senior leaders can be effective role models for balance by limiting (or eliminating) their use of email during weekends and evenings. As a wellness champion, including balance in your life is a great way to model behaviour to others in your school or jurisdiction.
- Encourage healthy lifestyle choices. There are often a number of untapped resources just waiting to be put to use. How about a reminder to use an existing Wellness Spending Account? Do you have an employee discount to a local gym or health facility? Get the word out!
- Support creativity. When a teacher asks to do something a little different—support them! Some innovative ideas have resulted in modified learning environments, outdoor classrooms, edible forests, community gardens and greenhouse projects, natural playground spaces and active hallways. In two Central Alberta schools, students have learned how to raise chickens and harvest honey! The staff and administrators that have engaged in these initiatives have found a way to re-energize themselves in the process—it’s a win-win!
One of the small group conversations from the session (Can more breaks be infused into the school year?) resulted in great dialogue. Two educators with experience in the Australian Education system shared their insights about the Australian school calendar which is based on four terms, with breaks that extend between two and six weeks. It certainly got our creative juices flowing to think of the impact that adjustments (large or small) can have on balance within a school community.
Has your school or jurisdiction made a change that had a direct impact on staff wellness? Please share the details below so we can all benefit from your experience!