Ward Melville High helps staff de-stress with relaxing music, soft lighting

District officials are touting a newly created wellness room at Ward Melville High School as a lesson in serenity, where the surroundings help teachers and staff de-stress over the course of a hectic workday.

The “WellVille” classroom, part of the wellness program in the Three Village school district, has been transformed into an “experience,” with soft lighting, relaxing music and lounge chairs, school officials said. The room, believed to be unique among Long Island schools, opened this month.

“I have always believed that if you have happy, healthy teachers, that trickles down to happy, healthy children — and guess who that trickles down to? Happy, healthy parents,” said Debbi Rakowsky, the district’s wellness social worker who wrote the proposal for the program and designed the space.

WellVille is not open to students, but is available for all levels of staff, from teachers to security to clerical workers. There are several lunch-and-learn workshops scheduled, on topics such as nutrition, and an expert on meditation is scheduled to visit later in the year.

The space at the East Setauket school is located in a hallway sandwiched between red lockers and traditional classrooms. The motto is “Live Well. Work Well,” and the room features details such as inspirational messaging, an essential oils diffuser, foot massager, salt lamps and a calming water feature.

There are puzzles, picture books and a meditation area in the space that Rakowsky describes as “Pottery Barn meets spa.”

The district would not provide the cost of the program, saying the initiative was funded using a variety of revenue sources, including but not limited to grants. It is a pilot program for the 2019-20 school year, and the district will assess the need and ability to expand it to other buildings in the future, school officials said.

The model, Rakowsky said, was based on wellness centers popular in corporate culture. Her goal is to have one in all nine schools in the district, but for now staff members from throughout the system are invited to use the services. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Rakowsky, a certified and licensed social worker, offers free counseling to whoever wants it.

“Everyone is going through something, and if we can help support them here, that’s great,” said Rakowsky, who has worked as a social worker in the district for more than 30 years.

Audra Cerruto, associate dean and director of graduate programs in the Division of Education at Molloy College, said educators face all kinds of stress. She has never heard of another district creating a space such as WellVille and said the concept is “fantastic.” Molloy, she said, offers a series for teachers-in-training that addresses mindfulness and wellness resources.

“It is a treat to find an opportunity to de-stress in the moment, but really the core is providing strategies, ongoing training, ongoing education about the many different stressors we have as teachers,” she said.

Katie DeBella, a substitute teaching assistant, recently attended a lunch workshop on nutrition in the wellness room.

“Grounding yourself is so important during the day and we kind of lost that in today’s society, so it is really cool to have a place that brings that back,” she said.  

Staffer Alyssa Ward, who works in the attendance office, sunk into the oversize massage chair while on a break.

“Honestly, it has been really helpful to me for stresses that come with the job and outside of the job,” Ward said. “And so anything we can bring to work with us on top of what we have here when we come in — it is just a good space to go and relax.

“I was feeling a little overwhelmed with more than just work, and I came in to recharge.”

Headshot of Newsday employee Joie Tyrell on June

By Joie Tyrrelljoie.tyrrell@newsday.com @JoieTyrrell 

Joie Tyrrell is a Long Island native and covers education for Newsday, where she has worked for nearly 20 years.

Available at: https://www.newsday.com/long-island/education/wellville-room-at-ward-melville-high-1.36899441?fbclid=IwAR1_nnn11R7RRTOO5mljaFWubjM4uJGnmBq0ikoIGTfpFYIQgEMl9Uc5J7U

Cambridge University promove webinar gratuito

Assessing Speaking: How to reduce some of the challenges of evaluating your learners
Speaker: Craig Thaine

Most formal English language tests and examinations include a component that focuses on spoken language. The aim of this assessment is to determine a learner’s level of spoken competence. The results of these tests are similar to snapshots frozen in time, and they provide learners with useful feedback and some kind of evidence of ability. 
At the same time, there is another kind of evaluation of learners’ speaking that is carried out regularly by teachers on English language programmes.  Their aim is to determine the kind of progress their learners are making with their oral language and to provide them with feedback for future learning. This is typically known as a Learning Oriented Assessment (LOA) approach to evaluating students’ speaking. 

This webinar will outline some of the differences between formal and classroom-based assessment of speaking. It will then look at what aspects of spoken language teachers can evaluate and focus on an LOA approach. It aims to provide practical suggestions that can make the assessment of speaking easier for both the learner and the teacher.

 15 October 2019  09:00 BST  Online 

Register for the webinar

About the speaker

Craig Thaine is Cambridge DTEFLA qualified and has an MA (Hons.) in Applied Linguistics. 

He is currently Director of Teacher Training at Languages International, Auckland and is a Cambridge ESOL Teaching Awards assessor for both the CELTA and Delta schemes.

Craig has extensive experience developing and teaching English language courses to adult learners, including ESP and EAP courses. Craig is co-author of Empower, the general English adult course.

SBS promove webinars gratuitos para professores de idiomas em comemoração à Quinzena do Professor

Programação resumida

07/10 – Interculturalidade nas aulas de idiomas: como apresentar elementos fundamentais para a compreensão de mundos nas aulas de idiomas, com Eugenia Goméz.

12/10 – Jogos e brincadeiras: sugestões para ensinar gramática e vocabulário de forma divertida e manter seus alunos motivados a aula toda, com Daniele Pechi. 

15/10 – Música nas aulas de idiomas: possibilidades e práticas, com Daniele Pechi.

17/10 – How to encourage speaking: strategies to make students thrive in speaking by speaking, com Ilá Coimbra.

19/10 – Como ensinar gramática sem chatice: atividades para abordar o tema de forma leve e descomplicada, com Ilá Coimbra.

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British Council free web conferences for the World Teacher’s Day!

October 5 is World Teacher’s Day! IATEFL and the British Council have organized a one-day free web conference with 16 separate sessions on varied ELT topics, such as inclusive education and materials development. Would you like to participate? This Saturday, October 5 – it starts at 6am (Brasília time) and sessions will happen all day. They will be recorded and available after the event. Check the schedule and register at https://conference.iatefl.org/webconference/.

MOOC on Content-Based Instruction from American English E-Teacher

Join the FREE American English E-Teacher MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Content-Based Instruction. This course will be offered until October 27, 2019 and you can take the course at your own pace. During this course, you will develop the skills and expertise you need to balance both content and language in the English as a Foreign Language Classroom. Enrollment will close on October 20, 2019 to make sure you have time to complete the coursework by October 27. We look forward to learning and sharing with you during this course!