We (Tricia in grey hat, Janelle in blue) share the role as Health Promoting Schools Coordinators in Central Okanagan Public Schools. Through the lens of comprehensive school health, we support school communities (including students, staff, and parents) to enhance healthy school environments, promote health and well-being, and implement the Physical and Health Education curriculum. We also enjoy a brisk walk, a good cup of tea, and a cookie to help maintain balance in our workdays.
What benefits have you seen from participating in the MDI?
Our data has revealed local strengths and challenges, giving us a better understanding of different contexts within our school district. Having access to the voices and perspectives of our youth through the MDI has been critically important – often suprising us and challenging our initial adult assumptions. We use our local data to support collaborative community sessions with our numerous partners who all play an equal role in supporting the youth within our community. They have equally appreciated having access to this data to support their initiatives, grant pursuits, and orientation of services.
How have you supported the use of MDI data in schools?
Through our roles as Health Promoting Schools Coordinators, we travel to each of the 31 elementary schools in our district to help our school communities (staff and parents) interpret their MDI data and use it to develop School Community Learning Plans. The MDI reports are an excellent resource – our elementary schools use MDI data as part of the scanning process in their work with the Spirals of Inquiry Program – but these Learning Plans are the real prize. Don’t treat the MDI reports at the final product! We also have the opportunity to demonstrate to our school teams how MDI results can support rich dialogue with their students, giving them a concrete start to conversations about what is really going on for learners in both their school environments and community contexts.
What advice do you have for others working to support well-being in the middle years?
Start slow; don’t overwhelm people with data and don’t try to fix everything at once.
Find your own local champions who are excited about the possibilities and start your change work with them.
Then remember to engage with the broader community, and reinforce the message that it truly takes a village to support the well-being of our students. If schools feel like it’s entirely on them to improve well-being, they’ll quickly feel overwhelmed.
We are looking forward to collecting Grade 7 data in the 2018-2019 school year, which will represent voices from the same cohort of students from Kindergarten (EDI), Grade 4 (MDI) and now their experience at Grade 7 (MDI). We’re also looking for creative ways to share the data directly with students and to use this as an opportunity to further explore the strengths, challenges, and surprises that arose from their data. As our schools become more comfortable with the MDI process and the data itself, we are excited about the new ways in which they will use the data to support growth over the long-term.