The Well-Being Room at Work

Sep 12th, 2017 | By | Category: Featuring: In the Classroom, In the Classroom, Inner News
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new author pic of Lynn Francis

Lynn Francis

By LYNN FRANCIS, MA, MS

—A magical room at Mid City, the site where I work, is increasingly capturing my interest and imagination. Surrounded by walls with no windows, it sits on the first floor of a three-story building. It has been organically, naturally growing through time with kindness and beautiful intentions to become the heart of our workplace.the word wellbeing spelled out for Inner News Fall 2017

When you enter, your eyes immediately are drawn to the original artwork on the walls by ESL teachers Jackie Kelly and Cheryl Perry. You will also see a wall with pictures of coworkers laughing and connecting. These pictures have been added one at a time since the building opened in 2000. Esther Anthony-Thomas updates an inspirational bulletin board that she created and maintains with articles and reflections on well-being.

Besides the aesthetic nature of this special room, it has practical items to support our well-being. There are a refrigerator, coffeepot, and toaster oven. There are microwaves and cabinets. There is a special table where we put food items that can be shared by all. Esther and I just learned that the apple I put on the table almost every day (given to me by a student) is the one she looks forward to receiving. Lately, flowers have appeared on every table.

Longtime ESL teacher, life coach, and marriage family therapist Lynn Francis is interested in the inner life of the teacher. She writes, “Because the tools of our trade—methods, techniques, theories, activities—are so well covered at workshops, in-services, and conferences, I felt there was a need to address other aspects of the teacher that are not covered.”

I have only recently been thinking of what a special room this is. It is like the living, beating heart that mirrors our inner workplace desires. It is like the lotus arising from the mud. (Please don’t take that too seriously about the workplace.) However, in the midst of increasing workloads and demands placed on employees, not to mention civil and global unrest, workplace priorities can become so overwhelming. When paperwork, committees, reports, testing become the focus rather than the kindness and well-being of the workers who make these things happen … burnout, discontent, discouragement, and disillusionment are fed.

We are a community. We need to remember to appreciate each other, listen, and support each other. We also need to continue to embrace the diversity and the particular gift and flavor that each one brings to the community. We have choices. With every interaction we can create kindness, connection, and well-being or we can create distance, isolation, and ill-will.

This heart space is where we congregate, chat, connect, and feel each other as a community, not just separate souls doing a job. How can we every day, with the smallest of interactions—a smile, a compliment, a hug—remember that we are amazing, interconnected human “beings” first, and “doing” workers second. Is there a place, a bulletin board, a newsletter that brings heart and connectedness

Lynn Francis is a part-time instructor for San Diego Community College Continuing Education. She has been a teacher trainer for more than 30 years. She also has a private practice as a life coach and licensed marriage family therapist. Readers of Inner News can reach her at lcfranci@sdccdedu.

 

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