Technology can enable wellness in schools

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Schools have long been a place for kids to get physical.

Teachers and administrators help them get there, through coordinated sports activities, health classes, and a watchful eye on playground antics. Health professionals also play a role, offering medical expertise and intervention if needed.

But the relationship between physicality and schools isn’t always smooth sailing.

Educators want kids to be healthy, but face enormous pressure to deploy volumes of curriculum amidst competing distractions. Time spent ‘running around’ may feel like time lost. Meanwhile, time spent managing administrative commitments for those physical activities creates further distance between staff, students and desired outcomes.

The rising tide of paperwork drowning schools is like a tension headache for educators, passed onto staff, families and students. The stressors administrative burdens place on schools ripple outwards and impact everyone. Technology has often been a culprit – tools with limited or negligible pedagogical context, that end up costing time and increasing strain.

While exploring the benefits of mindfulness in schools, UK Professor Katherine Weare found that “the perception and reality of stress in teaching gives rise to poor job performance, difficulties in recruitment, and to high and expensive rates of attrition in trainee and practising teachers.” (Weare, 2014)

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Can automation save us?

The good news is that programs and initiatives teaching and promoting wellbeing are proliferating across sectors, including education.

At the heart of this drive is the recognition that we need to build a culture of sustainability that encompasses both our people and our environment. We’re becoming more aware of how student wellbeing is connected with staff wellbeing – how energy, creativity and focus need reconstituting. Saving paper and saving ourselves are part of the same journey.

Administrators and teachers in leadership positions can find it particularly challenging to achieve the space for movement or mindfulness in their days. Parent Paperwork users have reported that an unexpected benefit of automating their administrative workload has been time to reinvest in wellbeing activities.

When teachers and staff are more healthy, relaxed and engaged, students respond in kind. We have all worked with someone tired, anxious and distracted. We’ve been that person ourselves. Our hardworking schools can easily tip into a kind of stasis – an endless loop of ticking boxes in a weary haze. This oppresses innovation and degrades the wellness of educational practitioners.

  • Is wellness expressed in your school values and goals?
  • Does your school have a wellness program distinct from any physical education or exercise program?
  • If you have a wellness program, is it focused on students or inclusive of all staff?
  • Which tools or processes in your working life ‘get in the way’ of wellbeing by adding stress or complexity?
  • Do you feel more or less relaxed when you use certain technologies?

Systems in schools, whether human or technological, have the power and responsibility to build healthy habits. Tools like Parent Paperwork aren’t just about operational efficiencies. They mean fewer hours tethered to the computer and more time talking and walking with students and families. Time and paper saved means energy applied more meaningfully and productively.

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