New conference highlights wellness for teacher candidates

By: Gerry Rucchin
November 14, 2018

The Bachelor of Education program at the Faculty of Education hosted its first Teacher Wellness Conference.

The conference’s goal is to provide year two teacher candidates with the tools to help their mental, physical and spiritual health as they enter the teaching profession. Conference organizers hope the skills they learned today will benefit their professional and personal lives.

“Teacher attrition in the profession has been rising, at a time when we’re facing a potential shortage of teachers,” said Associate Dean for Teacher Education, Professor Kathy Hibbert. “It’s estimated that 30 per cent of teachers leave the profession in the first five years, citing student behaviour problems and workplace stress.”

During the afternoon conference, teacher candidates participated in two breakout sessions. They chose from:

Diane O’Shea shows year two teacher candidates how healthy eating is a crucial part of overall wellness during Western Education’s Teacher Wellness Conference.

Diane O’Shea shows year two teacher candidates how healthy eating is a crucial part of overall wellness during Western Education’s Teacher Wellness Conference.

  • Mindfulness and nutrition
  • Nutrition and educator wellness
  • Creativity and education wellness
  • Work-life balance
  • Gratitude
  • Spirituality and faith
  • Physical wellness

The conference was organized by the Teacher Education Wellness Committee. The committee was launched one month ago in response to Western’s Student Mental Health and Wellness Strategic Plan. Comprised of teacher candidates, limited duties instructors, faculty and staff, the committee seeks to:

  • Create a workplace health and wellness program for teacher candidates, faculty and staff
  • Improve workplace well-being for students, faculty and staff
  • Work with university wellness organizations to benefit Western Education
  • Champion wellness in the faculty
  • Build a healthy workplace/learning culture

“We came together to discuss ways that we could work collectively to increase our knowledge and awareness of mental health prevention through planned supports. The conference was organized as the first step toward that commitment,” said Hibbert. “We’re fortunate to have the support of the Counselling Psychology program who worked closely with many of our teacher candidates as they designed and led sessions.”

The committee is planning a working retreat in December to discuss new ideas on how to support students, ensuring the best student experience at Western. The committee will also look at ways to support the wellness of staff, instructors and faculty.