WWAM goes off with a bang!
Queensland Teachers' Journal, vol. 123, no. 1, 9 February 2018, p. 12-13
The QTU’s first Workload and Wellbeing Awareness Month (WWAM) in November proved a riproaring success, with many schools making the effort to either have a workplace meeting about workload or taking the time to put in place strategies to address member wellbeing. It was a great way to end the school year, but this is far from the end of WWAM, or the Staying Well strategy. We look forward to continuing to work with members in 2018 as you put into place the plans that have been developed. Thanks to everyone for making WWAM such a success. Here is what just some of the schools around the state got up to during WWAM.
Allora State School
At Allora SS P-10 Campus, we dedicated a staff meeting to discuss, share and promote wellbeing strategies and we also declared a “Leave Work on Time Day” and all met across the road at the local RSL for a cuppa. Staff are saying we need to do that more often so, in week 8 of each term, we will now have LWOT day!
Burnett State College
QTU members met for a “nibbles and a natter” regarding WWAM.
Following some thought-inducing nibbles, they were asked to involve themselves in two activities. The first was to complete an individual survey regarding ways to improve both physical and mental health, especially while at work.
A discussion on how to combat stress individually and within the workplace lead to the second activity. Small groups brainstormed around one area and were asked to provide simple, but effective ideas as to how improvement might occur. Following some lively discussion, many good, workable ideas were forthcoming.
Charleville School of Distance Education
From our school opinion survey, we discovered that 100 per cent of staff were proud to say they work at our school. So, to capture why and to promote wellbeing and celebration, each staff member participated in a small group meeting with their respective team to reflect on the past year and celebrate all of the amazing things we have achieved. Staff completed four cards, which we called “brag tags”!
- Pink: What do you love about your job?
- Purple: Something you’ve achieved professionally this year that is worth celebrating?
- Blue: Something the school has achieved/done this year that is worth celebrating?
- Green: Gratitude for a colleague (and why).
There was laughing, banter and genuine appreciation for what we have and what we do each day. It was clear that staff appreciate support from colleagues, humour/fun and having the autonomy to do their job well. Many also commented on how much they appreciated having time to engage in new learning through observation, data and planning days (purchased with our I4S funds). Mostly though, people felt the best part of their job was the students and the staff.
Kingaroy State School
Kingaroy State School completed a workload and wellbeing survey and discussed the results, the positives as well as the areas which members identified as a concern, at their WWAM afternoon tea. The staff are now collectively working to come up with strategies for the main areas of concern that they can all support.
Murgon State High School
Workplace and wellbeing activities at MSHS include Three Thirty Thursday. An announcement heralded by the all-time favourite “Wake me up before you go-go” by Wham! over the school PA every Thursday at 3.29pm reminds staff that it is Three Thirty Thursday and they are to put tools down and think of themselves.
A number of staff also attend a yoga session offered in our drama room and run by one of our talented teachers.
We had a healthy breakfast preparation demonstration from our amazingly talented home ec teacher. A number of beginning teachers indicated to us that they have struggled to maintain a healthy diet while trying to establish work routines and handle the pressures of beginning in the profession, so Helen gave a demonstration of a few breakfast meals that require little preparation and are completely healthy.
We are about to re-invigorate a facilities campaign as part of the WHS element of WWAM. Letters are being penned and phone calls made as we speak.
Redbank Plains State School
At RPSS, members tried:
- limiting times when they send and read work emails to between 7am and 5pm
- setting a one-hour time limit on school-related work on their device after school at home
- challenging themselves to go to the staffroom for at least one break each day and just chat
- taking the time to eat and enjoy lunch with friends/colleagues.
And because laughter truly is the best medicine... there was a funny for every WWAM Wednesday in November…extended until the end of the term.
Sandy Strait State School
Sandy Strait SS Representatives wanted to understand what our members considered as the factors that impact on their workload and wellbeing. At such a hectic time of the year, it was viewed as an advantageous opportunity to accurately gauge members' ideas around how to improve workload, discover how and what to do to engage our staff in improving wellbeing, and ensure that each of our members’ opinions are sought and valued. The snapshot gave the QTU Representatives a clear understanding of areas of strength and areas that could be focused on. They presented this data at the final LCC meeting for 2017, with administration taking on board some recommendations.
There is no “quick fix”, overnight solution to improving a large school’s workload and wellbeing. However, through our identification process, we have identified areas that, as a staff, we can work on improving to build a stronger and more efficient workplace.
Taabinga State School
Here is a run-down on what has, and still is, being done at Taabinga regarding workload and well-being awareness for members.
All staff have a “random act of kindness buddy”. This involves having a secret (or not so secret!) person keeping a check on another staff member and doing/saying little things to help that person.
Taabinga has a wellbeing committee that plans and organises regular social functions, ranging from dinners out at specified venues, Friday afternoon social catch-up in the staffroom, trivia nights etc. This group also discusses whether staff are feeling under pressure, how this could be better handled and sometimes agenda items from these discussions are tabled to go to the LCC.
Staff have formed teams to encourage everyone to aim for 10,000 steps per day - to encourage healthy living and activity. So far it has had some very positive flow-on effects, such as:
- some staff have lost weight
- staff are talking to each other in a much more social manner
- staff are talking to colleagues, rather than using email or the intercom.
The LCC is now being actively used by members to table agenda items that relate to workload issues. Most members now feel comfortable talking to their Union Reps, following this up with an email to the Rep stating the issue/concern and feeling confident (and often relieved) that it is the Reps who will then raise the issue/concern at the next LCC meeting. This has reduced stress levels greatly for those members who do not feel confident in raising issues themselves.
Tara Shire State College
In 2015, Tara Shire State College assembled a wellbeing team. Our staff are the backbone of our school, their wellbeing directly affects how they teach, and what we achieve together. The goal of this team was to promote staff wellbeing and morale.
The wellbeing team assists in the promotion and facilitation of physical, social and emotional wellbeing. In order to do this, we provide opportunities and resources for staff to nurture their own wellbeing with social sports, weekly dinners, morning teas, birthday celebrations, muffin club and much more.
This year we also added the benefits of a charitable focus. In term one we raised money for LifeFlight, a cause close to the Tara community. In term two we took part in Australia’s biggest morning tea and focused our fundraising on the Cancer Council. In term three we took a step back from fundraising and focused on raising awareness of RUOK Day and encouraging mental health, where staff were offered personal wellbeing with the services from a visiting masseuse, celebration barbeque and yoga class. In term four we will be gifting to the less fortunate with Christmas gifts for the Salvation Army. Throughout the year we have also fundraised for Relay for Life, Autism Awareness, World’s Greatest Shave and Movember. As a staff, we have raised over $2,000 for a variety of causes and hope to continue next year.