Q&A with Scott Dirix and Kim Brady from Indie School, SA
Last month, Head of School, Scott Dirix and Assistant Head of School, Kim Brady shared their approach to understanding the needs of both their staff and students, the research underpinning their approach, and the impact on both teacher and student wellbeing. After receiving a lot of questions from participants, Kim and Scott have provided additional responses below.
Q: What are some of the disciplines present in your team and can you share some of the strategies you use to support communication within your teams?
Our team consists of 2x leaders, 3x teachers, 1x social worker/counsellor, 1x SSO and 1x VET coach.
Communication tools: 1x daily briefing (and sometimes 2x when required), a weekly staff meeting, a weekly whole staff PD session/wellbeing time, a team What’s App group for communication outside of school.
Communication strategies: Campus-wide, we promote the concept of ‘real talk’. We address problems head-on. We discuss things openly and honestly. We focus on being ‘curious, not critical’, all voices are heard and valued. We promote all team members as having a unique skill set and encourage them to lead when they can.
Q: Ideas to encourage staff to focus on them offering support to other staff (who may not be in social group) is about supporting teachers.
Self-care plans mean everyone checks on everyone. When we’re discussing wellbeing as a team, we sit as equals around the table, not as leaders and team. We work hard every day at building and maintaining authentic relationships with every member of our team. Just the same as in schools we want every single student to be well known by at least one adult, we also want every staff member to be known well by at least one support person
Q: How did you create a shared vision, and bring everyone on board?
It all began as a shared vision. We provided the evidence to the team and discussed what we wanted to do with it. We designed it all collaboratively.
Q: What has been key in your role as leaders of the school, in the successful implementation of the Framework so far?
Modelling good wellbeing practice. Practising what we preach. Opening up and sharing our own struggles with it. Being honest about when we fall down or trip up. ‘Showing our working’ when approaching issues with our own wellbeing.
It hasn’t yet… but it will be. We’re using explicit teaching to build a solid foundation with the kids, but over time they will have the basic skills we need them to have, then they will have a larger role in driving the what and how of implementation
Reseach and resources
- Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. Harper & Row
- Peterson, C. and Park, N. (2006). Character strengths in organizations. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 27: 1149-1154. https://doi.org/10.1002/job.398
- Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Free Press
- Simpson, R. & Peterson, R. & Smith, C. (2010). Critical Educational Program Components for Students with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders: Science, Policy, and Practice. Remedial and Special Education, 32, 230-242
- Te Riele, K. (2014). Putting the jigsaw together: Flexible learning programs in Australia. Final report. Melbourne: The Victoria Institute for Education, Diversity and Lifelong Learning
- Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher professional learning and development: Best evidence synthesis iteration. Ministry of Education
- White, M., & Murray, S. (eds) (2015). Evidence-based approaches in positive education: Implementing a strategic framework for wellbeing in schools.