Why healthy spaces?
Healthy spaces refer to the emotional, learning, teaching and working related components of a classroom and a school. Making your own health and well-being a priority is important, because in order to be effective teachers and leaders, we have to be healthy ourselves. Prioritizing this isn’t always easy. Many of us are trying to balance busy personal lives and responsibilities, our roles as professionals in the workplace and meeting the needs of students. It’s no surprise that many surveys and polls indicate that not feeling ‘good enough’ is a common experience among teachers.
What are the essential features?
The components for a healthy space include:
- safety (emotional, relational, physical, cognitive, and professional),
- autonomy (for teachers and for students),
- opportunity (to try, to fail, to succeed, to learn from both success and failure) and support.
Building healthy school communities
How we build healthy school communities? PHE Canada’s Health Promoting Schools program is built on 5 pillars:
- Teaching and Learning
- Physical and Social Environment
- Community Partnerships and Services
This approach ensures that the health needs of the school community are taken care of in a holistic manner. For example, teaching students about the importance of healthy eating (Teaching and Learning) is more likely to change behaviour if healthy foods are also sold in the cafeteria (Physical Environment) and staff and peers model healthy eating behaviours (Social Environment).
The resources you will find here address building healthy spaces from a number of directions
- working with students and their families,
- ideas for parents, working with colleagues, and
- working within systems.
Many of these resources have been developed by your teacher colleagues. We have recommendations for other programs and resources that come with credibility from research and practice, to help you build healthy spaces for yourself and your students.
Making mental health a priority is a key feature here. Building it in to everyday practice is critical.