Well-Being: How Do We Grow a Community of Wellness? Will it Take a Transformation in Education? Part 1 of 2 A
Case for Well-Being
“Ms Boersma, can you help me with this Math problem?” “Tommy, please sit down and get to work.” “Stop it! I’m telling on you!” “Go to the office and get a bandage.” “Please take the attendance down.” “Who has money for the field trip?” “Put your projects on the shelf over there.”
Public School teachers are experts at multi-tasking, and by that, I mean keeping a lot of things in our minds at the same time and having eyes all around us. Elementary teachers are generalists in that we do many things, seemingly all at once, and we teach multiple subjects. But, we are specialists because we are nurturing, inspiring, engaging all the time while we deal with many children all at once. We have eyes and ears all around us, plus we are teachers, parents, nurses, bankers, police, psychologists, social workers, guidance counsellors and coaches to these children.
On the side, we are learners in education, plan lessons late at night and in our sleep. We are always thinking about how we can turn something into a valuable lesson for our students. Now I am an entrepreneur, educator, artist, global communicator, inventor, connector, life-long learner and thought leader. Even though my role in education has changed slightly, I still find myself wearing many hats. And, in some projects, I need all the hats.
Well-being as a Pillar One thing I think about is a transformed education system. Well-being would be the pillar of the new system. Imagine what would it look like? Would we still need skills in multiple areas? I think so. I imagine a day as a teacher in, say, grade 4. Students work independently, they are well nourished, happy, self-confident and come ready to learn. They learn with the best pedagogical strategies neuroscience has discovered. What would that look like?
Bring Joy to Learning Perhaps we would learn through play, not just in Kindergarten. Even adults love to play. Perhaps it would include free-structured play. Or perhaps the students and the teacher would enter a pretend world…an “as if” world. They would live inside it for a while, then come out to reflect and make connections to their own lives, the lives of others they know about through other texts and the world around them. Living and learning inside an imaginary world allows us to explore, to try things out, to see what works and what doesn’t work and to learn deeply. We get to learn real life lessons without real-life consequences. How great would that be?
Well-Being in Our Relationships Maybe our students would build each other up, rather than put each other down. Possibly they wouldn’t abuse drugs and alcohol. Perhaps they would be able to look at another point of view and really “get” the other person. How amazing would that be? On the side of the recipient, what would it be like to be totally understood by someone, even though they might not agree with you.
And maybe both students and adults would learn how to make things right because we know, life doesn’t work without trust. That would be liberating! One of my grade 3 students said recently, “You mean we can be friends again after we make a mistake?” They wrote a song with their music teacher during our unit together. I think it would make a powerful school song.
Chronic stress inhibits change. Did you know you can lower the stress thermometer? Problem solving can only occur in a clearing. Did you know you can eliminate the emotional reaction? These are topics for training in well-being. Teachers can learn and then teach them. The world would be a better place with these lessons learned.
Blog by Margaret Boersma, OCT