WellAhead is a collaborative initiative aimed at integrating social and emotional well-being into school communities through prototyping. It is occurring now in six school districts in British Columbia.

WellAhead is an initiative of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. In the first year, the initiative is focusing on ‘everyday practices that make a difference’: sustainable, scaleable approaches to advancing student well-being that don’t require major resources to implement; that fit naturally within the role and skill set of educators and school partners; and that build upon existing assets and capabilities.

The Prototyping Process

In school district 61 (Victoria), 15 practices that support the social and emotional well-being of students were generated at an ‘Ideation Jam’ on November 2nd, 2015.

Five of these were posted online for comments and voting.

Of these five, two were chosen to prototype in four pilot schools in District 61 the upcoming months.

In April and May 2016 these practices will be scaled up to include more schools

Two Practices For Protoyping

1. 2 X 10 A SOLID FOUNDATION

2 x 10” involves school staff members engaging in a casual conversation with a student for at least two minutes and at least 10 times over an agreed upon time frame (3 weeks, one month etc.). Once they have connected with a student 10 times a foundation for a relationship has been built which will be nurtured over the remainder of the school year. The staff member will then choose another student to connect with using the same process, so that collectively this spreads to all students. Casual conversations will explore topics that students find fun and interesting, and won’t focus on student behaviours or academics.

How it could make a difference: “2 x 10” aims to reduce feelings of isolation among students, establish stronger connections to adults at their school, and to the school community. Having these stronger connections will lead to happier, more resilient students who are more likely to succeed personally and academically.

2. Appreciating School Community (ASC)

In the “Appreciating School Community” practice, students are greeted with a celebratory acknowledgement in transition periods throughout the school day (e.g. arriving at/ leaving school, transition between classes). As the bell rings to signal transitions, staff groups gather to greet students and celebrate with them in a fun and creative way. Staff groups are voluntary & rotating.

How it could make a difference: Through this practice, students and staff will experience a boosted improved morale and an increased sense of cohesive school culture. This practice will lead to a sense of community, connectedness, and belonging as well as honouring all kids, helping them to feel seen, appreciated and connected. The practice will also create connections with and between staff.

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