Hausla: 21 Day Mental Well-being Program: A Happy Educator Makes a Happy Classroom :-)
By VIVEK KUMAR
Hausla (which means courage, or boosting someone’s morale) is a 21-Day Mental Well-being audio series designed specifically to support teachers/educators to explore and identify tools & practices for personal well-being. The series was designed to give a space for teachers/educators to connect to their deeper selves and understand their contributions in the system, beginning from their family, to their workplace, and the larger system they are a part of. The overarching themes that it is built on are Self Efficacy, Emotional Regulation, Relationships & Interactions. Each audio ranges between 8 to 15 minutes that includes a story accompanied by a meditation practice. The program also includes a workbook that supports each day’s audio to document reflections and a proposal for self-compassion that ensures the continuity of the practice post the completion of 21 days.
The Design Journey
The program came to light on Teachers Day, 5th September 2020 in partnership with BRIO, an organization that enables access to quality mental health care through design and collaboration with local leaders and community based organizations. The first step began with empathy mapping where we tried to list out what teachers across communities are listening, seeing, hearing and doing at the time of the pandemic.
The design journey and content is inspired by extensive body of work of Albert Bandura, Daniel Goldman’s Triple Focus (2014), Frans de Waal’s Age of Empathy (2009) SEE Learning Curriculum by Emory University, Cognitive Based Compassion Training® and more such insightful writings by Thich Nhat Hanh and Paul Ekman have inspired the design journey.
Our core design principle includes the accessibility of contextually embedded and meaningful content for the listeners. Thereby the stories that are in the well-being series have been adapted in a manner that supports teachers/educators to reflect and harvest the major insights. Specifically, the second week’s content has stories from realistic scenarios that a teacher might come across as part of their work experience.
The well-being practices also offer an opportunity to cultivate a range of enduring capabilities such as attention training, gratitude to self and others, self compassion, insights into the nature of mental experiences for their own personal well-being.
The Needs Identified
The National Foundation for Education Research (NFER), England published their first report that showed that job-related stress is highest among the teaching profession. This statistic is pre-pandemic. The report highlights, one in 5 teachers feel stressed about their job most or all of the time.
Focussing on the scenario in our country India, this article Teacher wellbeing & self-care in Covid times, July 3, 2020, published in the Times of India authored by Rashmi Chari, Consultant-Education & Training with Centre for Curriculum, Pedagogy & Assessment New Delhi gives a glimpse of the magnitude of burden and stress on the teachers gives us more reasons to take this program ahead. As the article states, over 6 million teachers in India have been in the frontlines of damage control ensuring that learning reaches to their students. The article also stresses on the importance of creating a Self Care routine, encouraging well-being practices as daily habits that will build the strength and courage in the teachers to cope with this problem. The role of teachers also adapted to frontline workers where they had to support quarantine centers, conducting surveys and shifted completely from teaching-learning to COVID response.
This article brought out that it was also the lack of skills of internet know-hows as one of the major causes for stress in teachers. Adding more to it, We must also pay attention to the situation of female teachers who were juggling between attending to their professional expectations and managing the household responsibilities.
Closer home, our work is based out of tribal-rural blocks of Kotda and Gogunda, in Southern Rajasthan. The ground reality here is completely different and eye opening. Students here do not have access to the internet or phones to continue their learning, therefore, teachers have been going on the field doing house to house visits, providing learning materials and even coming up with innovative methods to try and to reach as many students as possible such as speaker learning programs. This adds to the stress of their family’s as well atter having exposed themselves.
It is also important to highlight that, with programs such as CCT (Compassion Cultivation Training), an eight-week formal program developed at Stanford University and CBCT (Cognitive Based Compassion Training) are such rich content to help us focus on mental well being, but programs like these are missing in the Indian context. Our program is designed in Hindi which makes it accessible to a lot more teachers in the country.
How Can Hausla Address these needs?
Hausla is a space where teachers can begin their journey of self reflection. It is a gateway to start thinking about well-being, to start openly discussing its importance and connect it with actual experiences gained from the program.
Moreover, the design and progression in the series when done with the entire team of staff members of the schools promotes healthy work culture, knowing more about their fellow team members and finding a solace or a vent to channel their emotions more constructively.
So far, we have conducted hausla with teachers/educators/fellows working in the education sector with our own and partner organizations. We have completed the journey with close to 150 educators. We are reaching close to 5000 educators through our interactive voice response system which is a free phone call service to listen to the Hausla program.
We have plans to reach 50000 educators in the next six month through partnership with local CSO’s and Government. The program helps build resilience and self efficacy which is the need of the hour
In a recent study of a pilot project conducted, Hausla program participants experienced a wealth of benefits during their time in the intervention. They reported statistically significant increases in the core skill of emotion regulation. This benefit has widespread effects and appears to be linked to additional benefits of increased workplace balance, reduced stress, increased coping behaviors, and deeper connections in relationships.
In a post participant survey conducted with 60 of our participants who have recently experienced Hausla whether they would like to recommend this program to more teachers/educators, alike or even friends or family members and we had a 100% positive response to take it ahead.
In an analysis that compared the responses of program participants before and after the Hausla program, several key results emerged. Between the beginning and end of the 21-day intervention, participating educators reported noticeably more ability to describe their emotions, an increase in coping behaviors, an increased sense of balance at work, lower levels of stress, closer relationships, and a heightened ability to monitor and regulate their emotions. The most important and powerful finding from our analysis is that the Hausla program appears to successfully contribute to a statistically significant increase in emotion regulation. This further appears to have secondary benefits of being able to be less overwhelmed by stress even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. These preliminary findings from just the first wave of pilot program participants points to the promise of the Hausla program in offering core skills to assist educators in more effectively navigating a meaningful, but stressful, vocation.
Adopt & Adapt
Access to the 21-day mental well-being package : The package includes a total 22 audios with Day 0 audio to begin with. Adding to this, it consists of a workbook and proposal for Self Compassion,
Timeline of the program
Orientation/Launch : At first the orientation will begin with the Day 0 audio clip that takes the listener through a step-by-step journey on how to be seated, how to use the workbook, what can they expect from the 21days audio clip. They are provided with colouring utilities and added practices to help inculcate mindfulness in daily life.
Practice : The practice will be completed in 21 days along with mentorship support by the designers once each week’s content is completed. This weekly check-in is a process to hold a space for participants to share insights, challenges and glows & grows they are experiencing in the course of their journey.
Closing : The practice will be closed with a consolidation of the 21-day journey through sharing of reflections by the participants. It will also close with them creating a proposal to continue on their journey towards self compassion, that they will take it ahead with their families, school and their team!
In the current times, well-being and mindfulness is being accepted as a mandate in educational institutions with the Delhi government adopting the Happiness Curriculum within the classrooms and launching of SEE Learning Curriculum in India – the institutions that adopt such practices are on the rise and it will create definitely create a buy in.