When I reflect upon my career in education, I am humbled, but not surprised by the amazing students, families, educators, and leaders with whom I have worked. As educators we are in the people business, and our students are our clients. And what could be more valuable or rewarding than helping children become compassionate and globally competent citizens who care about each other and our world?
But the pandemic turned that world upside down, and if we have learned anything from this unprecedented experience, we are reminded that taking care of our people matters and is foundational to educational success. Our schools represent our future, and our teachers, support staff, and leaders need to be well so that they can bring their best selves work every day and, in turn, bring out the best in their students. Education is a social experience and the way we interact with those around us matters. In our daily interactions we often ask others, “How are you?” and take interest in their wellbeing. But do we ever stop to reflect on our own wellness and ask, “How am I?” and then, “What I am doing about it?” As educators, we often put the needs of others before ours, and our own wellbeing suffers.
The EdCan Network has been amplifying the importance of workplace wellbeing for several years. Now we are excited to be welcoming thought leaders and educators from across Canada to the Pan-Canadian Summit on K–12 Workplace Wellbeing in Edmonton on November 7–9. This will be an opportunity to connect in person and share the “how” of making schools compassionate and vibrant learning communities where we strengthen mental health and wellbeing through intentional strategies to build system-wide resilience and culture. Innovative and thoughtful school districts across Canada have realized that championing this important work has far-reaching positive impacts. It is the right thing to do if we want to sustain our world-class Canadian education system, and our students deserve our best. I would argue that investing in the wellbeing of our staff is no longer an option; it is our mandate. I look forward to meeting you at the Summit in person!
First published in Education Canada, September 2022