Thursday, 29 January 2015

It started as a little Tweet: Staff Well Being Bags

Here in New Zealand, we have just come to the end of our six week holiday break. Our new school year begins on Monday and we are raring to go ! Our staff have worked overtime in their holidays creatively preparing modified learning spaces within our traditional school building. Several years spent focusing on quality teaching practices and engaging our students in deep learning for success have culminated in our new collaborative learning hubs. These hubs reflect the passion, creativity, imagination and agency of our students and staff and we can't wait to see them come alive on Monday !!!

As well as redesigning my workspace in the holidays, I spent nine days studying two master's papers in Wellington. One of the papers, 'Values and Leadership' was  taught by Professor @Cbransonwaikato and we learnt about Transrelational Leadership
"The transrelational leader is someone who encourages understanding and empathy amongst others. These leaders create opportunities for people to work together harmoniously and encourage and celebrate people's differences."  (From the University of Waikato website)

While I was studying I was drawn to a link to a Tweet (below) by @abbiemann1982 sharing staff well-being bags. They fitted in so well with the 'relational' theme that I was motivated to recreate these bags for our staff. I retweeted this link on Twitter and there was a flurry of Tweets from our Twitter community. Since then, Abigail Mann has shared an excellent blogpost about her bags on @pedagoo. I committed to making these bags online to our global Twitter community who all asked to see the finished product. Thus my determination to make the bags a reality and to share the experience.

After this, I tweeted from Wellington to one of our wonderful Assistant Principals @sburke7 who had created something similar a few years ago for our teachers. We agreed that it would be an ideal start of the year koha (Maori for gift from the heart ) for our valued team of hardworking staff. We created a google doc and collaboratively shared ideas for the contents of our bags based on @abbiemann1982  and others (@sburke7 has a whole pinterest board devoted to well being bags !). 
Some of the ideas on our google doc
Then we arranged to meet to go shopping for the goodies and returned laden with our wares.
We spent several hours putting the bags together. We recognise that the time we spend focusing on building and maintaining quality relationships can have no limit. We wanted to include reference to our school and staff values as well as our Catholic special character and at the same time include other treasures for the staff.

It's interesting to see how every school reflects their identity in the presentation and make up of their well being bags. I love the NZ flavour (Peanut slabs and mallow puffs) of the Family Me-We bags from @THE0BALD Holy Family School, Wellington. Well done Chris. Very impressive.

We  enjoyed creating our St Joseph's well being bags. 
@sburke7 and @jennyljackson at work putting the bags together.
 @LorraineFRees joined our production line and helped to fill the bags as well. 

Finally they were ready.

Here is the list that explains the contents of our bags:

Thanks to our vibrant, enthusiastic, creative and energetic staff who have worked hard to rearrange learning and working spaces for the new school year. 
  • Staff Values - to remember that we are supportive colleagues who value each other and the unique gifts and talents we bring to our school whanau 
  • Sticky notes- to record those brilliant ideas that sometimes come in the middle of the night. 
  • Crayon- to brighten your day and make a mark on our world.
  • Glue stick- to remind you to stick to your guns 
  • Permanent Marker - to remind you that the smallest things you do can have a lifelong impact on our children Highlighter - to highlight your gifts and talents 
  • Paper clip - to help hold it all together 
  • Rubber band - to remind you how flexible you are 
  • Blue Tack - to remind you to stick at it, even when it seems impossible 
  • Eraser - to remind you that it’s okay to make mistakes. That’s how we learn.
  •  ANZAC Oaty Slice - to munch on and remember our NZ/Aussie comrades who stood up for what was right during our 100 year celebrations. 
  • Chocolate Button Smarties - to remind you how smart you are and how much you have to contribute Milky Way chocolate bar - to remind you to Reach for the Stars in all that you do 
  • Tissue - to wipe away the sweat and for wiping tears of joy when that child amazes you and themselves with their ideas and success
  •  Water - to sip and remind you to always look at life through a half full bottle (of water !) 
  • Candle - to remind you that you are a shining light in our children’s lives
  • Match - to light your fire when feeling burnt out 
  • $5 Bean cafe voucher - to use when you need a caffeine fix 
  • Prayer- for reflective times and to celebrate our Dominican Charism and share the reason we are here with the children.
  •  Enjoy 2015 and know that we are all here for each other.

It was well worth the love and time that went into our well being bags when we felt and shared the laughter, joy and thanksgiving that they brought to our sensational staff.
Have you tried these in your workplace?

A little Tweet goes a long way.


  1. What a lovely idea for an amazing staff :)

  2. Thanks Chantelle. It was great fun making them too. It's a bit like the lovely Aussie treats you received at Holy Family when you started :)