As Dutch International Schools we believe in learning with and from each other. That is why heads of the Dutch International Primary Schools (DIPS) recently came together for a two-day conference to discuss a very important topic – ‘how to foster positive mental health and well-being in our schools’, an event organised by Ms Hannah Mansbridge, Head of International School Haarlem and Ms Erin Wilson, Head of International School Almere.
By Ms Hannah Mansbridge, Head of International School Haarlem
After the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone’s mental health is dented in some shape or form. We are always proactive in monitoring the health as well as the learning of our students, but we should not forget about our staff. Healthy staff are absolutely vital for a healthy school! That why Ms Erin Wilson (Head of International School Almere) and I wanted to balance the impact of challenges in education over the last two years and recognise the consequent demands on our teams by exploring how we could foster positive mental health and well-being in our schools.
We invited speakers from outside our network to provide two days of workshops. The conference was well attended by over 30 delegates from across many our schools. On the first day the focus was on the science of well-being and the art of coaching, led by Alison Mitchell. We were encouraged to look at recent research into well-being and consider it in light of our schools. We explored the responsibility of the school and that of the individual when it comes to well-being and looked at sustainable methods of improving a sense of staff well-being in school. The art of holding coaching conversations to understand the concerns and needs of our teams was a priority for us here.
On our second day, led by Marjon Bohre, we were encouraged to consider how we as leaders take care of ourselves. We spent time considering how to connect with authenticity in the world and with the people around us. It also allowed us time to reflect on what is needed for a school leader to experience and guide with a well-being focus.
Being part of a strong supportive community
As DIPS Heads of School, we aim to meet yearly for a two-day conference. The theme of each conference is different but relevant to best practice exploration and the sharing of initiatives and ideas. As with all quality learning environments, this recent conference provided a variety of learning to access and engage with. Many members spoke of ‘take-aways’ including moving forward with the coaching framework to hold meaningful conversations in school.
What is always inspirational however, is the connection one makes with fellow delegates and the chance to share ideas, stories, and experiences. Our focus was well-being, and I believe we all left with a sense of feeling good about our DIPS community. The well-being associated with being part of a strong, supportive and positive team is so valuable in our leadership communities, as well as in our schools.