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Aha! Learning about Learning: Tips for Wellness Champs

by Kylie McLean ASEBP | March 7 2019

One of the highlights of my role is being able to connect face-to-face with wellness champs at their meetings. It’s so great to meet these passionate people, be there to ‘watch the magic happen’ in person and witness just how significant a role wellness champions play in creating positive, healthy workplace cultures.

Often in these meetings, wellness champions are looking to me to share tools and resources they can take back to their workplaces and colleagues so that everyone may benefit. It’s an effective means of getting important information to as many staff as possible, as my mighty (yet small) team couldn’t possibly visit every school or workplace. In fact, we depend on wellness champs (and leaders alike) to champion the information and create that wellness ripple effect. It was in one of these awesome meetings that I found myself failing forward into a big ‘aha’ moment that I’d like to share with you.

From What to How

With so much focus on what supports are available, I had missed an important tool to equip the champs with how to share the supports. My realization came a couple of years ago at a wellness champion meeting when one of the champs said to me, “Wow, don’t you get nervous speaking in front of people? I would be so nervous.” I was surprised and responded, “What do you mean?! You’re a teacher in a classroom. You speak publicly to your students all day!” The champ reasoned that talking to adults, especially peers, is a lot different than speaking to a classroom full of students. BAM! I was struck with an ‘aha’ moment and an opportunity to be humbled by an assumption I had been making.

I assumed that because wellness champions were education staff, they would instinctively be confident and comfortable translating knowledge and resources to colleagues. After all, I thought, “They’re pros at student education and learning!” I may have helped equip the champions with tools for their workplace wellness toolkit, but was I supporting them in how to share that with their colleagues? This realization helped me piece together why wellness champions weren’t always bringing the information and resources back to share in their workplaces.

Learning about Learning

Consider that, just like children and youth have unique learning styles, so too do adults. Understanding adult learning principles may be the key to effectively and confidently teaching our colleagues about all the resources and services available to promote healthy, positive workplaces. There are many models of adult learning principles available, so here is my shortlist of favourite tips to translate knowledge to staff and workplaces:

  • Make it relevant and practical. Adults need to know why they’re learning. Start with the why and consider kicking off workplace wellness promotion by posting an anonymous wall with a question like, “Why is staff and workplace wellness important?” Encourage staff to add to the board with post-it notes explaining their why. Establishing a common ground around the importance of teacher and school staff well-being will help encourage engagement in future communication or initiatives related to employee wellness.
  • Acknowledge diversity in learning preferences. Adults, just like youth, have diverse learning styles. Share information about staff and workplace wellness in a variety of formats so you have a better chance of it resonating with everyone’s learning preferences, including electronically (via emails), visually (with posters in the staff room) or socially (through face-to–face conversation at the next staff meeting). Check out the ASEBP wellness poster series for some visual inspiration.
  • Active involvement. Learning through play and hands-on activities isn’t just for kids. If you’re not sure how to break the ice and talk about workplace wellness, take 10 minutes at your next staff meeting to guide everyone through one of ASEBP’s 10-minute wellness activities, such as Self-Care A-Z, or teach your colleagues the highlights of ASEBP benefits through a 5-minute challenge.

Learning is a Shared Responsibility

These are just a few tips to help you translate the valuable information and helpful tools you’ve received around wellness to the rest of your colleagues. But remember, one of the most unique traits of adult learners is that the learning is self-directed and requires being ready to learn. Your support as a wellness champion (no matter if you are a librarian, education assistant, administrator or teacher) ensures the resources and tools are relevant to your workplace and shared in ways that are inclusive and engaging. Then, it’s up to your colleagues to assess if the information is relevant to them and whether or not they’re ready to learn.

What have you found to be the most effective ways to translate your wellness champion expertise at your workplace? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Kylie McLean

As a registered dietitian, 'Snow White' (as Kylie affectionately calls herself) is a food superhero—protecting her fellow eaters from the most complex of food labels. Her super skills have given her the ability to bake a banana chocolate chip muffin that will leave you speechless—which more than makes up for her inability to execute a whistle or comprehend the consistency of sidewalk chalk. It’s so chalky!