Promising Practices, Research, School Community, Well at Work

Workplace Well-Being in K-12 Schools: What does it mean to “flourish” at work?

Facing growing levels of stress and burnout, K-12 staff require a supportive workplace that encourages them to find ways to “flourish” within their school community. While flourishing may look different to staff members depending on what makes them personally feel most valued and connected to their work, a flourishing school environment generally has three main components:

1. Subjective Well-Being: positive emotions, positive relationships, and a sense of making a difference are all aspects that contribute to a staff member’s sense of flourishing.

2. Adaptive Community: an environment where staff are encouraged to communicate openly with colleagues, be creative, and resolve team conflicts when they arise.

3. Leaderful Mindsets: staff are able to identify ways that their work contributes to the larger, shared goals of the school community, which provides a greater sense of ownership, engagement, and shared leadership.

Along with these components, staff in flourishing school communities generally demonstrate key “professional characteristics,” including: 

1. Compassion:  noticing and wanting to help ease the stress of others, and are aware of how their thoughts and actions impact their colleagues.

2. Trust: having the support and autonomy to take creative risks and innovate, which is reflective of having positive relationships with colleagues.

3. Hope: striving to improve the school environment as a whole-school community by recognizing both strengths and challenges, while building a shared vision for improvement.

While schools come in all shapes and sizes,  a flourishing school community is supportive and provides staff members with a sense of purpose and belonging where they feel seen, valued, and ultimately find meaning in their work.

This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada


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Meet the Expert(s)

Dr. Sabre Cherkowski

Associate Professor, Okanagan School of Education, University of British Columbia

Sabre Cherkowski is an associate professor in the Okanagan School of Education at the University of British Columbia. She is currently engaged in a multi-year, pan-Canadian research project on Flourishing in Schools.

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Dr. Keith Walker

Professor, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Keith Walker is a Professor of Educational Administration and Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. Dr. Walker brings over thirty years of experience as a manager, teacher, minister, leader, scholar, and educational administrator in public and social sectors.

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