Studies continue to show that self-care and balance in our lives lead to greater overall performance and productivity in the workplace as well as for students in school. At International School Bangkok (ISB), one of our mission points for students is for them to maintain healthy, active and balanced lives. We believe this is paramount for our staff too.
How does a busy school like ISB integrate this into the working environment? An example was seen on September 20th, when ISB closed the school campus for half a day and hosted a Whole School Professional Learning (PL) Day. ISB holds four Professional Learning days in the school year but this event was particularly unique because of the logistical feat of bringing all of the school departments together. Over 500 staff members came together as a learning community of faculty and staff to engage in shared wellness, service and role-specific workshops, and to contribute to the wider community in Bangkok.
The day, developed and run by the team in our Learning Design Center (LDC), aimed to engage our faculty and staff in a mindset of service, wellness and learning, thus modelling our new vision of ‘enriching communities’. It supported relationships with local organisations who would benefit from our support, enhanced service relationships that already exist, and further developed a collaborative and cohesive whole school culture.
The morning began with the faculty and staff taking part in one of a selection of wellness activities, including yoga, jewelry making, cycling, gymnastics, water color painting and more. Each program was managed by outside guests or volunteering staff. The participants then joined professional development sessions, relevant to their respective departments, which were valuable and informative workshops relating to their line of work.
Following on, the faculty members were invited to join outreach sessions which were prepared in collaboration with the Nonthaburi Neighborhood Reach (NNR) to support various non-profit organizations in the community. As Elizabeth Rossini, Director of Curriculum and Professional Learning at ISB, recently shared with the Thani Talk magazine, “It was an opportunity for our staff to explore further service learning opportunities for our students, engage in meaningful service themselves and to better understand the local community.”
In any organization with great aspirations and high standards, with motivated and hard-working individuals, achieving a quality work-life balance can be a challenge. Yet, more than ever, with the pressures of modern living and the never-ending demands on our attention, employee wellness is essential for ensuring long-term success. To quote the late William Powell & his wife Ochan Kusuma-Powell, well-known educational authors and consultants, “Teachers and school leaders must step back from the day-to-day focus of getting more done, of striving after ‘results’ and carve out sacred time for personal and group development. Reflection and transformational learning may seem an unaffordable luxury, or a ‘soft option’ in today’s fast-paced and results-oriented environment, but without time spent on these essential activities, schools will not become smarter, more intelligent places.”
The Professional Learning Day was a productive day of community building, enhanced cross-cultural connections and meaningful learning experiences. It has helped to reinforce our strong community spirit of openness, caring and inclusion that goes beyond our school walls, and encompasses our parents, students, staff and alumni. It’s a great example of ISB’s vision and values in action!