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University Students’ Perceptions of a 30-Minute Break During Class: A Realistic Practice for Wellness

By Shannon Kell

In the world of education, wellness is foundational to everything: our ability to teach and learn, function, meaningfully interact, balance work and life, behave appropriately, and perhaps most importantly: enjoy life and to flourish. Wellness needs to be prioritized and higher education can play a pivotal role in this vital work.

Inspired by teacher candidates in our bachelor of education program, and thinking back to my experiences as a secondary school teacher, I began to consider how I could best use my position as a leader and role model. Beyond content knowledge, how could I address growing concerns of happiness and wellness? I felt the systems in which we work are difficult to budge. What could I possibly do as one teacher that would make a difference?

My previous research had focused on nature’s benefits, executive functioning, and how educators could use the outdoors to help combat cognitive fatigue and behaviour concerns. But this was still out of reach for so many due to multiple challenges of logistics, confidence, and policies. Instead, I began to consider a simple wellness strategy of taking effective breaks and how this might be practiced in various educational contexts.

With the support of excited colleagues and teacher candidates who were eager to not only survive but to flourish in a demanding profession, this project came to fruition. The need and appetite for sustainable wellness was obvious. The practice of modeling and taking breaks is simple, realistic, and can be used across any work and life context. The challenge is whether or not we allow ourselves to step out of the busy-ness and provide ourselves the gift of time. Together, we simply took an unstructured 30-minute break during each three-hour class. This article shares insights into their perceptions and how it went.

Read the TLI article here.

Image: Mount Royal University Campus

Photo credit: kootenayvolcano, September 17, 2012

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