Why wellbeing leadership?

Stella Wilson

Wellbeing & Partnership Coordinator

Having worked in educational support for the last 20 years in varying guises from facilitator in one of London’s first, major educational learning support departments in Pimlico to my present position as a wellbeing and partnership coordinator, it is with great satisfaction that I see the profile of wellbeing and supporting our students as a whole continually rising. There is I believe, no doubt that embracing our responsibility to the learner as a whole creates cross-organisational gains and produces proactive and better balanced future citizens. Moreover, creating a stable and safe environment of acceptance and creative freedom offers an optimal climate for learners to grow and flourish within.

I have been a member of the cultural advocates program for several years and believe strongly in the promoting and provision of ongoing creative and cultural experiences for our, and all, learners as a means of promoting not only creativity, but emotional literacy and improved self-confidence. Cultural leadership to me is the process of supporting others in engaging in the wider cultural experiences offered by their surroundings, in our case London. Supporting new and emerging projects and opportunities to further enhance the diversity and effect of provision is in my opinion a key aspect of cultural leadership. To be a cultural leader, I feel one must create an example and model for others looking for guidance while supporting and engaging with fresh initiatives and ideas. Seeking to support fully those learners needing guidance, promoting cultural awareness and offering enrichment experiences to them throughout their journeys in education is a certain means of developing better self-awareness and resilience. As we know often it is the journey itself and not the destination that facilitates the most growth and development. Applying this concept of enrichment, sharing and outreach to wellbeing has seen the creation of wellbeing provision for a variety of educators through our various wellbeing initiatives and allowed our work to reach ever widening audiences.

I believe creating such opportunities and access to creative activity and wellbeing support allows our young people to express and share their emotions and aspirations in a safe and accepting context; celebrating and supporting diversity. I feel we should all consider how we can lead and encourage such changes within our contexts, of course within the parameters of our roles and opportunities available to us. We too need to be provided with the chance to feel supported and that we have agency over our delivery and content and indeed our creative direction. After all, we too are on a parallel journey with our learners and require the same freedoms and support to flourish and grow together. Of course, this brings me nicely to the basis of any successful and meaningful mentoring relationship where mutual trust, understanding and growth are key requisites of success.

In this sense we are all leaders, leaders of our destiny and influencers of the course of the destinies of others; the true joy of an educator’s work, all albeit demanding of one’s time and emotions. By encouraging our learners through engagement in enrichment and wellbeing activity to be captains of their own ships we are creating resilient and proactive individuals capable of leading both themselves and others. This process amongst teachers where peer mentoring and buddy coaching are embraced are proven to create not only cross organisational gains but innovation and improved output and retention of staff.

Working both as a ward councillor and wellbeing coordinator in one of the borough’s most socio-economically challenged areas I have seen first-hand the rewards of offering such an approach; the school at which I am based consistently ranks within the top three percent for attainment and has been regionally and nationally recognised for our wellbeing work. But it is the sense of quiet understanding and calm felt, that visitors and staff notice as they walk through our classes and corridors that is the most desirable of outcomes achieved by embracing such an approach. For learners to be supported in understanding themselves physically and emotionally we routinely offer: guided reflection, meditation and neuroscience content on a whole school basis while tailoring provision in-house, as a means to offer quality mentoring and coaching programmes for focus students.

It is my hope that as educators we can support each other in widening the spectrum and access to such support in the coming year, I hope to set up a peer facilitated support and feedback group for mentors, coaches and wellbeing providers and continue to build and share our custom resources. As a partnership coordinator I see and meet providers regularly committed to this same goal and hope to communicate and share their projects too; wellbeing is not an expensive, immeasurable ideal but a flexible and powerful tool to facilitate and support educators and students alike to flourish. I for one have witnessed first-hand its value to all who engage with it and hope to do all I can to promote and encourage its continued use and provision.

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