I am at my best when supporting caregiving individuals and communities (such as teachers and schools) to grow THEIR wellbeing so that they are better equipped to enhance the wellbeing of those they serve, in this case, students. When we are talking wellbeing I firmly believe that it is mostly “caught” not “taught” hence if we want to “teach” wellbeing we must first be well, which means having a focus on staff wellbeing is an imperative not optional first step.
Teachers are my friends, my colleagues, and my clients. After giving of myself for nearly two decades educating students from prep to grade across multiple sectors and diverse backgrounds I then had children of my own. After having children it struck me that if I wanted the very best for their education that meant offering up the skills and knowledge around wellbeing that I had accumulated (formally and informally) to support those doing the day to day (sometimes night-to-night and weekend to weekend) work within my children’s classrooms.
The calling to contribute to our profession in this way had always been inside me, however, it has taken a long and windy road to find a formal way to set it free into the world. Back in 2008 when I did my neuroscience-based coaching certification there was no talk perse of wellbeing priorities within our schools or many other workplaces at the time. I simply started applying the things that I had learned about the brain to support myself, then the students in my classroom. I then reached out to support the first-year teachers at our school, a school in which our newly minted teachers were often towered over by our larger than life and somewhat spirited population of Pacifica students. Permission was granted for me to run a pilot support program on the condition that there was no time release, I’m sure you know the deal. So squeezed in between playground duty, volleyball training, the odd detention, oh and yes potentially eating something and going to the toilet the things my colleagues and I were experimenting with at the time were having a dramatic and positive impact on our wellbeing and our performance in the classroom.
Fast forward a decade and it’s now validating and reassuring that the good work of wellbeing that so many teachers have always managed to implicitly weave into their practice is now becoming a priority. Inspired initially by Dr. Suzie Green I read everything I could get my hands on in the space of Positive Education and may have sold (with his loving permission) my husband’s Santa Cruz Heckler mountain bike to raise the funds to attend my first PESA conference… It was then that I was awestruck by Professor Lea Waters who ultimately encouraged me to “follow my calling and do the MAPP”, which then lead me to much more reading…
In between being inspired by Suzie and awestruck by Lea I had already started offering myself up more formally to early-adopting principals in my local area. This period of time has given me the opportunity to take the science of wellbeing and immediately apply it. It has been the greatest privilege of my life, however, it has also been somewhat lonely and challenging. During this phase I was heavily reliant on the generosity of spirit, practical tools and resource ideas from the likes of Justin Robinson and the team from Geelong Grammar School, Mick Walsh from The Learning Curve and Dr. Michelle McQuaid primarily through her amazing podcast Making Positive Psychology Work.
For me as I have been learning and applying there have been three ongoing questions in the back of my mind…
- How do we get this important work to the schools that need it most by making high-quality evidence-based approaches to wellbeing accessible and affordable?
- How do we take the complexity of wellbeing theory and turn it into practice in simple and systematic ways?
- How do we create an approach that sets schools up for success with their wellbeing priorities with just the right balance of support to increase the likelihood of transfer and sustained whole school impact?
For me, the answer to these three questions lies in being able to equip schools to be intelligent end-users with accessible online platforms. A place from which they can learn and apply evidence-based wellbeing practices at both the individual and the systems level in ways that are flexible and meaningful to their context. A place with ongoing support and a sense of community as we all learn and grow together.
So I am excited to announce that I have teamed up with the fabulous Michelle McQuaid and over the past few months, we have been bringing my wellbeing dreams to fruition through the creation of the Education Lab.
The Education Lab is quite simply everything I wished I had had available to me when I started working on wellbeing in schools on limited budgets. The Education lab will give you everything you need to successfully lead a wellbeing priority within your school. It will save you time and money by giving you the opportunity to avoid all the mistakes I have made over the years. It takes the best of the complexities of Positive Education, Evidence-based Coaching approaches and systems science, it simplifies things for you while maintaining rigor. The Education Lab gives you bite-size resources for you to digest, tweak and deliver to your unique setting. An Education Lab license gives you training, resources, coaching and most importantly access to a community of like-minded educators across the globe who all have the same passion for improving wellbeing in schools that you do!
So if this sounds like something that could be useful to you and your school then please contact us through our Education Lab page at MichelleMcQuaid.com