Tag Archives: Well-Being in Schools

He waka eke noa

9 Oct


He waka eke noa

A canoe which we are all in with no exception

The term 3 holidays have looked a little different for me in 2019. I have just has surgery reattaching my hamstring to the top of my leg. This was an enforced rest for one week. Even now over a week later I am not that mobile, nor can I work to the degree I am used to. I have found the whole process awesome. It has given me time to think. Reflect. Revise. Evaluate. One thing I have been thinking about is workload and burnout of staff. By looking after yourself you are indeed looking after everyone.

Here are some things I am things that have come to mind:

Building positive relationships with your colleagues

We have all heard it before, relationships are the most important thing when it comes to teaching but this also is true when it comes to your relationships with colleagues.  If you surround yourself with negative people that continuously vent and never celebrate the positive, you will find yourself starting to think the same way.  We have to train our brains to see the positive.

Be willing to be flexible

This is a tough one.

 Finding mentors

Having a mentor can help as they can provide you with a heads up and support as you work through understanding building norms, expectations, and traditions of the school. I am so lucky to have many.

Creating balance

Finding balance in your life between personal and professional is extremely hard but it is vital for your well-being.   How are you managing your daily stress and workload?  How are you taking care of yourself emotionally and physically?

One thing at a time

We all have things we want to improve on but it is near impossible to do it all at once. Need help?  Check in with a teaching partner or mentor for guidance as we are all stronger as a team.

Take advantage of the breaks

Some of the best advice I received a few years back was to make sure to take full advantage of the time we had off from school.  I have often not been a good role model for staff here. I will continue to make this change.

Are you looking after yourself in order to be the best you can be?

Inclusive Learning Environments

19 Aug


This week while attending the Careers Expo I had a rich conversation with staff around what it means to support struggling students by creating inclusive learning environments. I started with the whakataukī: He waka eke noa. A canoe which we are all in with no exception.My first reaction upon in the discussion was to focus on the word inclusive, and I thought of LGBT students and inclusive environments. Our Catholic schools are all about being inclusive. As Pope Francis has recently written we as a church need to greet all with empathy and comfort rather than with unbending rules and rigid codes of conduct. Our national curriculum, NEGs and NAGs all demand it. Creating inclusive environments are essential not only for learning but also for growth and development.

As a restorative and PB4L school we acknowledge schools that allow parts of the student body to feel unsafe, unwanted, or unknown do a disservice not only to each child’s development but also to the learning process and culture throughout the entire school. You cannot have a school where everyone is included in learning or develop a culture that is inclusive of learning unless you are also inclusive of all tamariki.

The word inclusive can and does mean more than creating environments that are supportive of all. It means evolving environments that are inclusive of all and inclusive of learning. Our school should be creating a culture of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga.

We can develop environments that are safe and connected, but we must also establish environments that promote, expect, and enhance learning. That is acceleration for all students. Schools and their classrooms must be environments in which the aim of learning is clear. They must be spaces where students understand that getting something wrong is part of the learning process. Its ok to fail is an important message. Where it’s OK to speak out and suggest answers. Where a culture of inquiry is the norm. I read recently that learning is a culture. It starts as a culture with the students as human beings needing to understand their environment. And it ends as a culture with students taking what we give them and using it in those physical and digital environments they call home. . culture of learning is a collection of thinking habits, beliefs about self, and collaborative workflows that result in sustained critical learning.

The term inclusive can also mean that students are included in the learning. Not merely inclusive of learning but included in what gets taught and how it gets taught. Inclusivity brings people together and places us all inside the process. Whether we are discussing personalization, differentiation, student at the centre learning, we are talking about learning that is inclusive of learning styles and interests.

Granting students more agency over their learning may seem like a leap in faith, but  it will become infectious. Teachers will begin to realize the full potential of their students and how much they had previously underestimated them. Furthermore, once students are empowered teachers will truly understand who their students are and what they really need.

What do you think? Is your school an inclusive school? What are you doing to promote this in your classroom?


Well- Being

31 Aug


As a leader in a school, school development is fundamentally tied to emotional development — yours and that of others. Emotional intelligence only has meaning when you’re in relationships with others, and even more so when these relationships test your emotions.

School leadership is a journey on which each and every day you have to learn how to respond consciously to the stresses of your role instead of simply reacting and putting out fires. People who know will smile when they read that as it is a common comment I make.

There are going to be times when you’ll feel like a stranger to yourself as you try to find new frames of reference for handling new circumstances, relationships, and challenges.

Admitting your own vulnerabilities when faced with the challenges of school leadership isn’t a form of weakness — it’s what will get you through. Indeed it has got me through. I accept who I am and so do those I work with.

What’s more, if you don’t get the support you need in the role (and my goodness I am so lucky I do), you’ll end up overwhelmed with the enormity of your role and be emotionally drained. At this time there is so much literature about well-being in schools take time next week to look after yourself.


21 Aug


I had the pleasure last week to be involved in the NASDAP national conference. There were an abundance of great speakers which I will reflect on in the coming weeks. Here are my thoughts as I reflect a week later:

Andrew revisit your Vision as a School Leader:

Take some time out and reflect on the reasons why you stepped into the school leadership role. What was it that you had hoped you could achieve? What was the legacy that you had hoped to leave behind? It takes courage to have a big vision and as a school leader, wanting to make a difference to the lives of future generations, your vision will be bigger than most.

Andrew reflect on your values: 

It is highly likely that with the challenges that have arisen as the result of the new education innovation, that there will have been times when you will have found your values severely tested. When we are under stress we can sometimes find ourselves behaving in ways in which our values are severely compromised, we find our -selves becoming disillusioned and if pushed too far, deciding to jump ship.

Andrew find support:

You can’t do it alone! You are not superhuman and really there is no such thing as a super head! All school leaders feel pain, anger and frustration. The problem is many school leaders seek to hide their true emotions both from themselves and others.

When we ask for help, we may find that we open the door that leads us to becoming a bigger vision of ourselves. 


22 Aug


Our  deepest conversations with colleagues revolve around helping students to be successful. It worries me some students don’t try because they do not wish to fail. The complexity level of many students is stunning and therefore it takes a much deeper level of professional collaboration and parental partnership then ever before in our role as educators. The words anxiety, depression, autism, and opposition are part of our vernacular on a daily basis. A great deal of our work deals with student well-being

Into this conversation arrives the theory of grit, perhaps espoused best by Angela Lee Duckworth. I am loving this read. Find it . Read it.

Well Being

18 Apr


After reading this week it got me thinking about what I could do to improve well-being in my own place of work. The holidays are the perfect time. It seems obvious and simple to me that if teachers are healthy, positive individuals their teaching practice benefits from this. In the current climate surrounding education teachers need to know that there are people who care about their well-being and that they really do matter.

My role within the school is to responsibility for the Senior School and Daily Operations. That means working closely with colleagues. It’s important to me that staff want to improve because they want to improve, not because I want them to. To achieve this it is important to put strategies in place to let this happen. I t has to be more than professional development. It is the small things like creating time for authentic appraisal, having meaning staff discussion about the decisions that affect them and extra five minutes for that staff farewell. The aim is to make staff feel valued and encourage a collaborative approach to teaching and learning across the curriculum areas.


23 Feb

To me student success means simply making myself unnecessary as a teacher by empowering my students become autonomous learners, who can work independently and who know where to find the information and guidance they need. This requires handing over the tools for learning to students, and trusting in their motivation and drive to get their learning done, but having robust interactions with students to be able to help if needed.

Many schools aspire to empower their students to become life-long learners, and that is great! This is the true paradigm shift we need in education! But, it is not enough if we say this aloud (or write it on the visions and missions of school, or publish it on the school website), this goal must be integrated into everyday teaching practices as well as to the assessments. Students’ perception matters. We need open and honest communication to remain believable so that our students understand and feel their success and learning being important for us. Well-being in schools as defined above is an essential measure of providing students with successful learning experiences.


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