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The Wellbeing Bubble

Issue: Volume 96, Number 13

Posted: 06:00am, 24 Jul 2017
Reference #: 1H9deL

A new online resource to boost student wellbeing is seeing positive results at Aotea College.

‘For students, by students, in partnership with staff.’

That is the motto of the Wellbeing Bubble, a new resource for the students of Porirua’s Aotea College.

A revitalised, student-led version of the school’s previous bullying prevention process, the Wellbeing Bubble is a website that encourages young people to take agency in decisions affecting their wellbeing.

The new resource outlines five possible pathways students can follow when they have a problem, such as feeling stressed or bullied. These pathways quickly put them in touch with the best support: from professional services and trusted teachers, to encouraging messages penned by fellow students. All of the content on the site has been written for students, by students, in partnership with school staff.

The Wellbeing Bubble got its start in 2016 after a schoolwide wellbeing survey highlighted the difference between how students and teachers viewed the accessibility of school staff for support with bullying.

A group of passionate year 12 students, a school leader, a youth worker and a guidance counsellor decided to create an easily accessible resource to support student wellbeing at the school and forge a stronger partnership between students and teachers.

This year its circle of influence continues to grow, with an increasing number of Aotea College students getting involved. The site has also been nominated for a Wellington Airport Community Award.

Wellbeing team member Abby McRoberts says an important element of the project has been the strong partnership between students and staff at the school.

“We have presented and run workshops at staff meetings, been in dialogue with teachers at dean and department meetings and run ‘speed dating’ exercises to get teachers’ opinions on new ideas,” she explains.

“For us to be given the opportunity to be valued as experts in our own lives and be a part of decision-making with our teachers has been truly empowering. It showed us how important it is for young people to take agency in making decisions about their wellbeing.”

Abby says this partnership has been key to the project’s success.

Aotea College students have worked together with staff to create a new resource

Aotea College students have worked together with staff to create a new resource to help support student wellbeing.

“Entering dialogue with staff was a new experience for us that at first was daunting, although the insight provided was valuable in developing the resource. This enabled the Wellbeing Bubble resource to be implemented effectively and remain sustainable at Aotea College.”

The Wellbeing Bubble extends out to social media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram.

Student Emily Paterson is one of two wellbeing prefects at the school, and says that while the initiative is working in exciting ways at Aotea, she’d love to see it extended further.

“At the moment we’re presenting it to the students at the school, and posting about it on social media. So far the feedback has been really good, there’s been lots of interest among the students,” she says.

“We’d like to see the following grow, to make sure we’re reaching as many people as possible, and also to extend our knowledge out to other schools if we can.”

As head of guidance at Aotea College, Nicole Macquet has worked closely with the students to develop the resource, which she says is all about working with young people and positioning them as experts in their own lives.

“For the students involved in developing this, there’s been some really innovative learning and lessons in leadership. They’ve learnt about deconstructing discourses and externalising language. They can use this language in conversations with professionals with confidence.

“In addition to the creation of the Wellbeing Bubble, the students have met with HODs and deans to co-construct and support them with their yearly wellbeing goals. It’s just been fantastic to see students and teachers working together and making stronger connections, negotiating their worlds of meaning.

“But I think the biggest thing for me is that this is true learner agency in action – young people and adults sharing decision-making. It’s more than just ‘student voice,’ because they are taking ownership and true leadership over their own wellbeing.”

Find the resource at Aotea.school.nz/whanau/wellbeing (external link)

 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

The Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero is produced by NZME for the Ministry of Education for teachers, leaders, and other education professionals working in New Zealand.

Posted: 06:07am, 24 July 2017

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