University of Bolton (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN23 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 66-70
ISBN: 978-84-09-52151-7
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2023.0050
Conference name: 15th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2023
Location: Palma, Spain
As a Senior Lecturer teaching students who have worked fulltime and on the frontline in the NHS and social sector during this pandemic, I have witnessed how it has affected their learning. Understandably, these students were fatigued, anxious and witnessed traumatic events as Trainee Nursing Associates. These students were well supported in terms of personal tutoring as well as signposting to Life lounge and other external agencies however, I feel as lecturers we need to embed wellbeing into the curriculum and modules.

As Programme Lead, I trialled this by having a Virtual ‘Wellbeing Café’ on a module, this was a student led discussion for one hour where students were asked to bring a coffee and cake to the online classroom. The discussion focussed on what students do for their own wellbeing. The conversations held in the virtual café were inspiring as one student mentioned they had joined an online choir which they shared a link for (with 4 other learners joining this choir), other students mentioned going for a walk and listening to Podcasts. I also joined in and shared my experience and how I upcycle furniture and shared some of my work.

Feedback from learners was:
Initially I was sceptical about an online wellbeing café as I didn't know what to expect but found it was a pleasant way to end the teachings and to start to get to know some of our cohort especially as we are all to meet up in person. Listening to what some people are doing to relieve stress during a most unusual year was very interesting. Gaining understanding that we need to look after ourselves as well others’’ (Learner feedback on the Wellbeing Café)

I really enjoyed the wellbeing café we took part in a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was a great way to breakdown some barriers and make us stronger as a group. I think we forget sometimes that we are just human, we work really hard and it feels like we are hitting a brick wall so being able to communicate that openly was really good (Learner feedback on the Wellbeing Café)

The virtual wellbeing café, we participated in, I thought it worked well, it was good getting to talk to the other students along with yourself. And to just get to know everyone a little better, along with discovering new ways and ideas to encourage mindfulness.
With lessons taking place outside of the classroom I think these sorts of informal meetings are helpful (Learner feedback on the Wellbeing Café)

Since then, I have implemented wellbeing cafes in all modules of the Programme and disseminated this practice by sharing with other programmes. Wellbeing cafes now run before every summative submission when learner stress levels are at their peak.

I have had feedback from other programmes for example, District Nursing who ran a wellbeing café and provided positive feedback. I received an award for this through Health Education England - ‘Innovator/Educator of the year’ for supporting students wellbeing during the pandemic by creating and implementing the virtual wellbeing cafes on the TNA programme.

This practice not only supports student wellbeing, student retention as well as student attainment, it also allows learners to build resilience preparing them for employment and challenges in employment and home life.
Student Well-being, Innovative practice, Learner engagement.