High impact wellbeing strategies

‚ÄčThe High Impact Wellbeing Strategies (HIWS) support every teacher in every classroom.  They promote student wellbeing and form part of a whole-school approach. 

What are the HIWS?

The HIWS are 7 evidence-informed strategies developed in partnership with Monash University. They have a significant effect on student wellbeing. The HIWS empower school staff with the knowledge and skills to build student wellbeing.

The HIWS form part of the Victorian Teaching and Learning Model (VTLM). They are a companion to the High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS) and contribute to effective instructional practice.

The HIWS complement existing school processes and practices. They are most effective when integrated with other mental health and wellbeing initiatives. This includes the Health and Physical Education curriculum and Personal and Social capabilities as well as social and emotional learning.

Effective teachers will use multiple strategies to meet the needs of their students.

Teams of teachers can collaborate to use the strategies to promote student wellbeing.

Who are the HIWS for?

The HIWS have been developed for use by teachers in the classroom.

They can also be used by Education Support staff, school leaders, school-based wellbeing staff and in multi-disciplinary area teams and Professional Learning Communities.

What are the benefits of using the HIWS?

Integrating the HIWS into regular practice will also help teachers to develop new skills and extend existing ones. The HIWS benefit:

  • Students by having a positive effect on their wellbeing.
  • Beginning teachers as a bank of practices that build teachers' understanding of student wellbeing. The strategies will help beginning teachers build stronger relationships with students.
  • Experienced teachers by enhancing their understanding of student wellbeing. The strategies support experienced teachers to build their practice and encourage reflection.
  • Education support staff by supporting stronger relationships with students. The strategies build a greater understanding of student wellbeing.
  • School-based wellbeing teams as an opportunity to collaborate with teachers to build their understanding of student wellbeing. The strategies are a Tier 1 universal intervention. They align with whole-school approaches to promoting mental health and wellbeing.
  • School leaders by supporting implementation of a whole-school approach to promoting student wellbeing.
  • Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) as collaboration between teachers will assist effective school-wide implementation.
  • Multi-disciplinary area teams by supporting conversations in schools about student wellbeing.

How to get started with HIWS

The HIWS should be implemented as part of a whole of school approach to promoting student wellbeing.

The HIWS can be implemented through:

  • collaboration between teachers in PLCs
  • integration into classroom and school planning around curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Collaboration, coaching, modelling, observation and feedback will:

  • build a common understanding of each strategy amongst teachers
  • assist teachers to further build and refine their skills  
  • support teachers to develop a shared language and consistent practice.

The HIWS are explored further in the case studies and continuum of practice. These assist professional conversations and reflection.

Using the HIWS and the FISO 2.0 improvement cycle

The HIWS will have the strongest impact on student wellbeing when used as part of the FISO 2.0 improvement cycle.

The HIWS offer an opportunity to embed wellbeing practices by providing:

  • a common language for collaborating, planning and reflecting on teacher practice
  • a continuum to develop teacher practice across the 7 HIWS
  • resources to guide practice improvement in wellbeing strategies.

For more information, see:

Explore the 7 HIWS

HIWS 1: Build relationships with students

Teachers prioritise building relationships with their students. They make authentic efforts to get to know their students and their needs. Positive teacher-student relationships play an important role in student wellbeing. They form a foundation for effective teaching and learning.

Key elements:

  • Show genuine care and respect to students.
  • Help students solve problems and take time to help them learn.
  • Provide students with choice, empowerment and responsibility.

HIWS 2: Facilitate peer relationships

Teachers can foster positive relationships by promoting acceptance and respect in their classrooms. They provide opportunities for students to connect with peers and for collaborative learning.

Key elements:

  • Provide a safe space for students to develop connections with their peers.
  • Understand differences among students and how that may affect their interactions.
  • Model and explicitly teach social and emotional skills.

HIWS 3: Establish and maintain classroom expectations

Teachers establish clear and consistent classroom expectations and consequences. These are clearly communicated to students and align with the school-wide approach. They are developed through a shared, ongoing process with students. Teachers model, expect and reinforce respectful behaviour. Classroom expectations are complementary to reasonable adjustments.

Key elements:

  • Discuss expectations with students and seek their input.
  • Create a sense of order and predictability in a classroom.
  • Use proportionate and non-punitive responses when expectations are not met.

HIWS 4: Support inclusion and belonging

Teachers communicate and act in ways that promote acceptance. They celebrate the diversity of students and their families. Teachers develop students' capacity to respect and include others. Teachers support all students to learn and thrive in their classrooms. They are aware of, and reflect on, their own cultures and biases. They do not attempt to minimise or dismiss inequalities and inequities.

Key elements:

  • Ensure students feel valued, accepted, safe and comfortable in the classroom.
  • Learn from students about their lived experience and promote an understanding of multiple and diverse perspectives.
  • Respond swiftly and effectively to language and behaviour that is discriminatory, offensive or demeaning to others.

HIWS 5: Foster student self-efficacy

Teachers hold high expectations for all students and help students to develop a sense of self-efficacy. They know that the way students view their abilities, achievements and self in the classroom influences their wellbeing as well as their learning. Teachers foster self-efficacy by encouraging students to persist and providing feedback. They provide opportunities for students to experience success.

Key elements:

  • Encourage students to try their best and celebrate all achievements.
  • Set work and goals aligned with student abilities and consider each student's progress compared to their competencies.
  • Hold high expectations for all students.

HIWS 6: Engage students

Teachers engage students and encourage high attendance. They provide meaningful experiences and tailor tasks to student interest and capability. Teachers have a good understanding of their students' needs and interests. They highlight the relevance of topics and skills to students.

Key elements:

  • Tailor tasks to student interests.
  • Provide meaningful and challenging ways for students to complete classwork and assessments.
  • Ensure there are opportunities for students to work in pairs or groups and to contribute to each other's learning.

HIWS 7: Promote coping strategies and facilitate referrals

Teachers help students to identify and use positive coping strategies. This includes self-regulation and help seeking. They notice changes in a student and inquire sensitively. They facilitate referrals for students to their school's wellbeing team, if needed.

Key elements:

  • Support students to identify personal emotional responses.
  • Promote positive coping strategies.
  • Notice changes in student demeanour or behaviour and refer for more support if necessary.