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wellbeing in schools

Assistant Prof. Jen Watt says she started the podcast to show what's possible to accomplish with students.

Well-being podcast making connections in time of social distancing

Assistant prof. partners with students to produce show exceeding expectations

May 8, 2020 — 

Moving into the pandemic lockdown, Assistant Prof. Jen Watt says people are starting to realize what’s happening when young people can’t make the connections provided in school.

“Although we have always known it, Covid-19 has helped us to see how important school is for providing connections, for providing support, and for providing meaning,” says Watt. “All of these are contributors to well-being and well-becoming. I think it’s so important to have these conversations and to have them right now.”

With this realization, Watt started the Schools of Well-Being podcast. Researchers and academics discuss well-being and well-becoming and how it connects to schools, students, teachers, educational leaders, and communities.

Jen Watt

Jen Watt

The program also includes conversations with K-12 educators about inspiring ways their schools practise well-being and well-becoming.

Watt hopes to reach other academics who research well-being in education, but other disciplines as well.

“We have informal partnerships with people in philosophy, social work and psychology,” Watt says. “We’re starting to think more interdisciplinary around well-being.”

To create the weekly podcast, Watt has partnered with BEd student Malcolm Ericastilla-Somers, who provides the soundtrack, and PhD student Rebeca Heringer, who produces, edits and designs graphics for the show.

Formerly a bachelor’s student in social communication with a focus on advertising, Heringer says she has been able to re-engage skills she developed in her undergrad with a theoretical understanding gained through her graduate studies.

“This project has been a real highlight in my program,” Heringer says. “This project is really a metaphor for well-being because students are actually getting involved holistically.”

Using only cellphones and a Zoom app, Watt says the U of M Research Start-Up-funded project is exceeding her expectations both in terms of content and in its reach.

“We try to show people what is possible to do with their students,” she says, adding her podcasts are getting more downloads that her journal papers.

“There’s something about getting the stories out there in a way that people can connect to,” Watt says. “I think most students would be happier to be listening to a lively conversation, than a reading journal article.”

Access the Schools of Well-Being podcast.


  1. Pilot Episode: Welcome to Schools of Well-Being (APRIL 22, 2020)

In this first episode, I tell a few stories about who I am, why I’m launching this podcast to connect to my wider educational community during the COVID-19 pandemic, and why we hope you will keep listening to the episodes on well-being in schools that will be released in the upcoming weeks.

  1. Talking to Thomas Falkenberg: Conceptualizing Well-being and Well-becoming in Schools (APRIL 29, 2020)

Today I talk to Dr. Thomas Falkenberg (Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba). Thomas is a leader in the area of well-being in schools in Manitoba and across Canada. In this episode, Thomas shares his work creating a conceptual framework for well-being and well-becoming in schools and describes some of the collaborative partnerships he has initiated at school, divisional, and provincial levels.

  1. Well-being in Transitions from Middle to High School: Pembina Trails School Division (MAY 6, 2020)

In this episode, I have a conversation with Jane Friesen (Director of Clinical and Extended Services for Pembina Trails School Division), Shannon Tipping (Principal of École Viscount Alexander) and Colleen Roberts (Principal of General Byng School). We talk about their three-year WB2 (Well-being and Well-becoming in Schools) Project, which focuses on improving well-being for students as they transition from middle school to high school.

  1. Finding Hope in Middle School: Dr. George Johnson Middle School (MAY 13, 2020)

This episode is a lively, thought-provoking conversation with James Gibbs (Principal), Raya Charrier (Gr. 7 and 8 teacher and Assistant Principal) and Kelly Croy (Guidance Counselor) at Dr. George Johnson School, a middle school that is located in Gimli, Manitoba. We discuss the important connection between hope and middle school students’ well-being.

More episodes to come on following Wednesdays.




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