In March I had great pleasure in attending the inaugural Wellbeing Australia conference in Cairns. What made it special was the inspiration and passion shown by so many teachers and wellbeing officers towards the children—and extending further to the parents and the broader school community. In packing for the conference, I gathered up many of the resources that schools most often find useful, only to discover that there was particular interest in our Positive Parenting cards. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of wellbeing work that is undertaken by schools through the supporting and running of parenting groups.
What I find so inspiring, is how schools are taking on a role as community developers, bringing communities and neighbours together, and building capacity. This, coupled with a focus on wellbeing, strengths and circle-work, is helping to build a more inclusive, respectful society.
I was also reminded again this week, of how important wellbeing officers are in schools. A friend of mine, who is currently studying social work as a post-graduate, is on placement as a wellbeing officer for a regional secondary school. The sometimes complex issues within families and the spilling over of anger and other emotions in children are benefited by the provision of these services. One young boy around the age of 12 or 13 approached my friend asking for help in managing his anger. He said that he wanted to be in control and not in trouble. On that particular day, his father had promised to visit him early in the morning for his birthday. This meant he had to miss his bus to school and was devastated when his father didn’t show up. After some tears, a few video games, and a comforting word, he was on his way, but no doubt was feeling the effects of the morning and wanted to catch up with my friend again the following week. (I am sending through a set of Cars ’R’ Us cards to my friend to assist this young boy around behavioural choices.)
Denise Juneau, US politician and education advocate is quoted as saying:
‘Teachers do the noble work of educating our children. And we can’t thank them enough for the hard work they put in every day to ensure a bright future for all of us.’
While this quote is accurate, what is missing is widespread community acknowledgement of the humanity of teachers and the nurturing role that they also play—not only for our children, but for the extended school community. Let us hope that wellbeing continues to be an important consideration within schools, and that our teachers are supported in encouraging strengths, circle work and other forms of social and emotional learning.
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