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Fostering Cultures of Well-Being

You can't take care of students unless you also take care of yourself. That was a theme in a session put on by the College's Ethical Leadership Institute in March 2019. It featured a new AQ called Fostering Cultures of Well-Being Within Professional Practice, which put the spotlight on a critical issue for educators.

Photo: Matthew Plexman

Photo of a teacher standing and leaning towards a seated student with glasses.

David Parmer, OCT, a STEM teacher at Dr. Norman Bethune C.I. in Toronto, defines wellness as the ability to manage the job's mental, physical and emotional toll.

"This is something educators need to be aware of as they continue their careers – the inevitable erosion that comes with being the caring adult in the room," he says. "Each individual has unique ways to recharge in a positive way. Taking a deep dive into ways to improve our well-being can only [improve] our own life satisfaction, which, in turn, will have a positive effect in our classrooms."

Parmer was asked to prepare a resource or activity to share at the institute, and wrote an original "slam" poem. "It attempted to capture the multiple facets of coping with the stress of being an educator," he says.

Participant Xiomara Pena, OCT, currently on leave from the York Catholic District School Board, says she has experienced burnout. The session at the institute was a chance to learn from workshops and share stories. Pena was happy to see the College focus on mental health, given that so many teachers and students alike are affected. "It's important to bring light to an issue that is impacting all of education," she believes.