Our guest blog post this week comes from Nord Anglia Education, an International Education company with 54 schools in 24 countries world-wide. This is the first in a series of blogs that we will feature that are written by wellbeing teacher champions in their network of schools.
We have a growing network of enthusiastic Wellbeing and Positive Education ‘Champions’ connecting through our online university. This is a platform that connects all our teachers to share teaching methods, experience, advice and training.
We are delighted to be given this opportunity for a regular Blog spot on IPEN. The aim of our blogs is to share with you a variety of ways that Wellbeing and Positive Education are being developed in real, on-the-ground situations and settings by practising teachers in a range of school settings. This first blog is written by Emma Corkery.
Many of the character traits we hope to encourage as educators such as resilience, motivation and mental strength are the same qualities that can be fostered through a whole school approach to wellbeing. This is perhaps why positive education and wellbeing programmes in schools are continuing to grow and be supported by the wider staff body. When the opportunity arose to share what we have been putting into place at The British Vietnamese International School Hanoi, I was pleased and excited to share how we have been approaching and integrating wellbeing, it is also a good opportunity for reflection and celebration of our collective journey so far.
One of the things I value most about working at The British Vietnamese International School in Hanoi is the opportunity to not only share my enthusiasm for health and wellbeing but actively encourage our student and staff community to participate. Prior to becoming a Secondary School Teacher, I worked as a children’s yoga teacher and some of my most memorable experiences were teaching the children how to connect to themselves and others to form positive relationships in their communities. Before I started working for BVIS I had a wish to work in a school where I could teach in the classroom but also connect with students through yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices. I actually drew the scene and it became an image of two halves, one side classroom teaching and the other a depiction of mindfulness practices. Fast forward a couple of years and the image has become a reality in many ways.
What Positive Education looks like in our school
On a day to day basis Form Tutors have access to an online hub of resources such as meditations and videos to follow with the students or I visit tutor groups and guide short yoga and meditation sessions to start the day. This is also popular with the Form Tutors as it gives them a chance to practice too. I hold weekly staff wellbeing sessions which have a yoga and meditation focus and it is not unusual now for the whole school to join together for a breathing meditation or contemplation on wider issues as part of school assemblies.
We run a number of enrichment days over the course of the academic year which promote deeper learning experiences and have included mindfulness practices in different forms. One memorable moment was our STEAM enrichment day inspired by the UN sustainable goals that ended with a student and staff contemplation meditation. The connection between all of the UN goals is humanity and what better way to focus our collective energy than contemplating that everything we strive to achieve starts within our own hearts and minds.
We have recently held another enrichment day with the UN goals of sustainability and responsible consumption as a focus. There was a great variety of activities for students to engage with and each one required students to analyse their impact on society and the world. This approach helps to establish the realisation of our connection to each other and forms the basis of viewing our interactions and decisions through the lens of mindfulness.
As I personally reflect on the picture I drew a few years ago, what becomes evident is that positive education is not separate from the rest of the education we provide, it not only enhances it but it is an integral part of what we do. We prepare young people for an unknown future with the intention of empowering them to improve their own and others life chances.
It doesn’t take much delving into the world of mindfulness to find that the real goal is to integrate the practice into everyday activities so that mindfulness is not an add on, but part of everything we do. It is the same with the goals of positive education; achieving lasting impact means always being mindful of the intention and building a community where the awareness of the intention is shared. With this in mind, I hope that as the positive education movement continues to grow, we find more ways to embed ideas and practices that will help students to shape a fulfilling future.