by GEORGINA BARRATT-SEE, ELLA KAHU and KATHY EGEA
Our STARS First-Year Experience Network this year focussed on staff well-being. Our well-being matters – for us, but also for our students. There is an increasing call for compassionate pedagogy in higher education to support student well-being. And, as Ella’s framework of student engagement illustrates, student wellbeing is closely linked to student engagement and learning. But we can only be compassionate caring educators if we are well ourselves.
During the workshop participants identified strategies using the six principles of the Wheel of well-being.
body: yoga, group fitness, running/walking/swimming, walking meetings
mind: professional development, conferences, YouTube, podcasts, LinkedIn learning, MOOCs, cryptic crosswords, sudoku
spirit: saying thanks, smiling, giving compliments, jokes, creativity, volunteering, community tutoring (e.g., refugees), donating to scholarships, shared morning teas
place: walking through campus, sitting outside, Indigenous exploration of campus, watching sunsets/sunrises, observing nature
planet: recycling, upcycling, reusing, eco-cups, communal veggie gardens
people: proactively planning time with friends, shared jigsaws in the tearoom, grabbing coffees with colleagues, ice-cream walks
The workshop also discussed Georgina’s blogpost on Six principles to avoid burnout in 2022:
get in touch with your own first-year student experience to engage your empathic response to students
take decent breaks, use your leave, or if you’re casual, try and take a break when you’re not employed. Put your out-of-office on. Delete your work email app on your phone
keep a folder of positive feedback you receive from students or staff to help when things are hard
look for new things to learn and embrace, take advantage of working on a university campus and look for opportunities such as lectures, podcasts, courses and conferences
debrief with colleagues, when challenges happen debrief in-person or on-line with immediate workmates or those you see occasionally
know when you are really burnt out and seek professional help. All universities have Employee Assistance programmes or speak to your GP for a mental health care plan, or access Lifeline.
We hope these tips are valuable. Importantly, this is not just an individual issue. Institutions also need to provide a working environment that is conducive to staff (and therefore student) well-being.
Georgina Barratt-See, Manager Peer Learning Programs, HELPS, Student Services Unit, University of Technology Sydney [email protected] @GeorginaBC
Ella Kahu, Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. [email protected] @EllaKahu
Kathy Egea, Senior lecturer and UTS coordinator of the First and Further Year Experience (FFYE) Program, University of Technology Sydney [email protected] @kathyegea