Push button wellbeing

An app is encouraging students to speak out about what is troubling them.
May 31, 2021
Technology encourages students to report their mental state

Stoicism is something of a national trait, it's a good and bad thing, good in the sense that we tend to push through with a minimum of fuss, bad in the sense that talking about feelings and mental health isn’t front and centre.

Opening the lines of communication can be difficult when it comes to well-being and one school has found that the interface of an app is encouraging students to speak out about what is troubling them.

ACC Moreton wants the school to be a place where kids can meet their potential and enjoy their school experience, communication between staff and students is a big part of that.

ACC Moreton’s Head of Student Wellbeing, Derek Hughes­­ says, “ACC desires an atmosphere that allows children to meet their spiritual, intellectual, social and Emotional potential so that they can live abundant lives and have a positive influence on their families and wider community. I’m sure all educators want similar things for their students, they just go about it differently. I feel very privileged to be part of an organisation that invests in the whole child which includes regularly reflecting, at every level, on how we do what we do.”

Initially, ACC used Educator Impact’s (EI) teacher professional development tool to help teachers gather data about the professional practice; it provided a ‘360°’ perspective on their strengths and weaknesses.

“EI approached us about some new software they were working on to help schools with collecting data on “Well-Being”.  As I was brand new into the role of Head of Well-being and Student Services I was keen to accept any help I could in getting a picture of the well-being of our students and data that would help us improve that,” he says.

The Ei Pulse app was deployed at the school and ACC Moreton has been pleased to see the promises made being delivered on.

“While Ei Pulse collects some very helpful data on a range of issues that has allowed us to implement and escalate a range of strategies and programs, particularly around social interaction and resilience in the upper primary and middle school, I believe that the most impactful piece of data is the answers to the 'How are you feeling' question.

“This allows students, who might not have the words or the courage to approach an adult to simply tick a “I need help” option on the survey. For the children who use this, the result is the adult they request contacts them within 24 hours. Usually the 'how ya doin?' from that adult is enough, but occasionally deeper issues are uncovered that, otherwise, might have slipped through the net,” Hughes says.

The collected data on the well-being of the students at the school give staff a pretty accurate picture of where the kids’ heads are at any given time.

“The most obvious impact is that relationships are being built and fostered. More kids are reaching out for help than ever before because we have given them a safe vehicle to do so. It is very early days though, and the college leadership is confident that as we gather more feedback, in the student voice, we will be able to specifically target more areas of need.

 “We have given the teachers one more thing to do, have the students do the Pulse check-in, but the reality is this is a very small time investment for an excellent return. If we can gather good information, from the students, about their well-being and how to improve it then time is saved in the classroom, if we can connect vulnerable students with adults they trust and help them build relationships, then time is saved in the classroom. Connected students who feel safe and respected behave better, learn better and live better,” he says.

“An investment in a child’s well-being will always give a return. Pulse doesn’t just allow us to gather information, it allows us to see the students’ perspective on a range of issues and opens conversations which allow us to reaffirm our commitment to helping them live abundant lives.”

ACC students agree that the app has made a difference to the general well-being of the school.

One says, “I’m able to reach out and communicate with teachers, if I need help I can do that without having to confront because I struggle with that sometimes. As a result, I am getting the help I need more often than in the past.

“We get a reminder email once a week saying ‘Pulse check-up’ and I do the survey, if I’m feeling good I say ‘I’m feeling good’ if I’m not feeling good, I say ‘I’m not feeling good’ and, if I need help I say ‘I need help’”.