In seeking to develop a culture of wellbeing within the College, it is important that we are clear as to what we are trying to achieve. Both ‘culture’ and ‘wellbeing’ are difficult words to define and/or understand. In the words of well-known lawyer Denis Denuto [‘The Castle’] – ‘it’s the vibe and aah no that’s it, it’s the vibe.’
What is school culture, and who shapes it?
Culture is the underground stream of norms, values, beliefs, traditions and rituals that has built up over time as people work together, solve problems and confront challenges. This set of informal expectations and values shapes how people think, feel and act in schools.
This highly enduring web of influence binds the school together and makes it special. It is up to school leaders—principals, teachers and often parents —to help identify, shape and maintain strong, positive, student-focused cultures. Without these supportive cultures, reforms will wither and student learning will slip.
‘Parents, teachers, principals, and students often sense something special and undefined about the schools they attend. For decades, the terms climate and ethos have been used to capture this pervasive, yet elusive, element we call “culture.” Although hard to define and difficult to put a finger on, culture is extremely powerful. This ephemeral, taken-for-granted aspect of schools, too often over-looked or ignored, is actually one of the most significant features of any educational enterprise. Culture influences everything that goes on in schools: how staff dress, what they talk about, their willingness to change, the practice of instruction, and the emphasis given to student and faculty learning.’
(Deal & Peterson, 1994; Firestone & Wilson, 1985; Newmann & Associates, 1996)
What is Wellbeing?
The staff at Investigator College met at the beginning of this Term to discuss the balance between Skills/Resources and Challenges. We are well when there is a balance between the skills and resources we have at hand and the challenges that come our way. When challenges outweigh our skill level or the resources [people] we have around us, we can feel overwhelmed. Conversely if we are not challenged to the level of our skills and resources, we can become bored, uninterested and unfulfilled.
A pictorial representation might look something like this:
With this in mind, our Wellbeing Project at Investigator College seeks to equip each member of our community with the skills and resources to meet the challenges they face each and every day – not only within the College, but outside in our families and our community.
One way we seek to equip parents and caregivers is through education, given it has never been more challenging for parents to raise happy, healthy and resilient children. All parents need clear, fact-based information on the challenges faced by young people. Critical topics such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, drug and alcohol use, cyberbullying and many others need clear explanation and guidance.
SchoolTV is a new resource that is now available to Investigator College parents and staff. Each edition addresses a major topic with expert interviews, fact sheets, parent quizzes, recommended apps, books and much more. SchoolTV collects information from many respected sources such as BeyondBlue and ReachOut and it provides a single stream of independent factual information that saves parents time and confusion when searching online across multiple sites for information.
You can access the SchoolTV here: