Stop ‘should-ing’ yourself: Could teaching students about habit formation help with wellbeing?

‘Why is it that we wait until our 30s or older until we start to learn and become curious about habits?’ I said to my wife last night… ‘isn’t funny that within several of our friendship groups we have all started exploring self-help books around the same time… I wish someone would have explained it to me sooner!’

During the lockdown period, like many other people, I decided this could be a great opportunity to focus on developing some healthy habits. So, I hit the ‘healthy lockdown Sadie’ mission hard and meditated, exercised, did yoga, listened to podcasts and read books… for about 6 weeks. Then I begin a rapid decline back to my old ways of not doing those things, or at least only doing them sporadically. My motivation to make these changes had been spurred by some recent health issues, as well as reading books such as Bessel Van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. This motivated me in so far as understanding that the mind and body are connected, and I’d felt first hand the physical manifestations of stress; indeed, my body tends to be the thing that gives out first during stressful times. Anticipating a period of high stress and uncertainty, I wanted to try and get ahead of things, and keep my mind and body in a stable (as possible) state. So even though I wasn’t able to continue these habits with the intensity that I had hoped, I was kind to myself because I understood that my brain was in survival mode, and that meant letting go of expectations and being kinder in my thoughts about myself and what I was capable of at this time. One of the things that helped me to be a little kinder was a Tim Feriss podcast episode with sports psychologist, Dr Michael Gervais. It was discussed in a slightly different context, but the idea that remains transferable is that “we get overrun by external stimulus telling us how we should look, how we should think, how we should… That should-ing all over oneself creates shame and smallness.” This really resonated with me and the inner dialogue that I’d been having with myself about many things during lockdown… ‘I should wake up earlier’, ‘I should do more work if I’m working from home’, ‘I should be using this time more productively’, ‘I should get fitter’, etc, etc. It’s not that there isn’t some value in some of these thoughts, exercising for example really would make me feel better, but in framing it in a ‘should’ sentence, what automatically ensued was a feeling of shame for ‘under-achieving’ and a feeling that I was always falling behind.

To bring back the definition of wellbeing that I have drawn upon in my previous blog posts, Davis (2019, p. 1) defines wellbeing as “the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, and ability to manage stress.” One journal article that I would like to bring into this discussion is by Gireesh, Das and Viner (2018) and their paper ‘Impact of health behaviours and deprivation on well-being in a national sample of English young people’. The authors describe a wide range of factors that contribute to adolescent wellbeing which include cognitive and relational factors such as family structures, bullying and relationships, support from peers and school connectedness. Additional behavioral factors also had an influence on wellbeing and included fruit and vegetable consumption, alcohol and drug use, sleep duration, physical and leisure time activity, and sedentary behaviours (See Gireesh, Das and Viner, 2018 for references pertaining to these different areas for more information). The authors explain that (UK based) policy initiatives have tended to target cognitive and relational factors such as developing resiliency, and have not really paid due attention to non-psychological modifiable factors that relate to lifestyle behaviours such as sleep, exercise and reading. The study concluded promoting healthy sleep, reading and healthy eating behaviours may be important future targets for wellbeing-based policies for young people. 

This led me to thinking about the importance of helping students to understand the formation of habits and their inherently fluctuating nature when it comes to issues of wellbeing. In my experience ‘habits’ are often taught in relation to ‘study habits’ which are aimed mostly at examination year groups. This leads me to question why it is that we only teach habits to help students prepare to cope with periods of ‘expected stress’ (the impending doom of exams) which has a clear start and end (study leave, followed by exams, followed by exam results coming out). There is a clear motivation to establish good habits during this time, but could we work with students more effectively to guide them in developing intrinsic motivation for their own wellbeing? The other context when it comes to discussions about habits is the ‘you should do, x, y and z… it will make you feel better’, most commonly when it comes to learning about healthy eating or exercise at school. It’s not that this is wrong, but I would argue that perhaps this is encouraging the same (well-meaning but unintentional) shaming and bullying inner dialogue that we continue to suffer with as adults. 

My question is rather than ‘should-ing’ on students as well as ourselves, could we help to educate them with the tools of how to develop habits, and then empower them to explore and research what habits might be useful to them (and why/how) in helping with their own wellbeing – especially during this period of great uncertainty? Perhaps it’s better to instill good habits early, and encourage students to experience this for themselves now, then have them reach for books on habits in their 30s or beyond, searching for the answers they didn’t get at school. 

I’d love to hear from any schools that have explored habit formation and wellbeing with their students – please send a message or write a comment if you would like to share.

References (and mentions)

Davis, T. (2019). What Is Well-Being? Definition, Types, and Well-Being Skills. Retrieved from

Gireesh, A., Das, S., & Viner, R.M. (2018). Impact of health behaviours and deprivation on well-being in a national sample of English young people. BMJ Paediatrics Open [Online], 2(1).

Van der Kolk, B. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma. New York: Penguin Group. 

The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Michael Gervais (#256)

*Interesting blog post on habits and education –

‘It’s not my story to tell… it’s yours to write’

So I woke up this morning and the first thing I told my wife was… ‘I think I’m going to become a writer…’, to which she replied ‘after writing 2 blog posts?’… I corrected her ‘it’s 3 actually’ and then we laughed. It’s been really interesting that in starting to write this blog and create the first newsletter, I have found writing enjoyable and somewhat therapeutic (if not a little addictive – strike whilst the iron is hot and all that… or at least whilst the iron is hot and I have time to use it). In this particular blog post I am going to discuss what my PhD journey has taught me in terms of wellbeing, and more specifically about finding purpose.

Not long after I completed my undergraduate degree I was extremely fortunate to be offered the opportunity to study for a PhD, and without any real professional or personal responsibilities I was very lucky that I was able to dedicate myself to my studies full time. When looking to undertake a PhD I would be lying if the pull of becoming a “Dr’ wasn’t a significant motivating factor, as well as the challenge to myself – ‘Could I really do this?’ There was also a part of the design that was based around my love of ideas, critical thinking and the connection of these in a way that piqued my curiosity. That was in 2010. Fast forward to late 2013 and having handed in my thesis and completed my revisions, I had completed the PhD journey. Thinking back on this now I think I deep down I thought that achieving a PhD was something to hide behind. I also thought it would bring validation that never came, and a self-confidence that never grew (little did I understand that this is where the real work actually starts). 

What I think (looking back now) had started at some point during my studies was what would become a deep-seated but (relatively) highly functioning depression that would take me years to process and begin to recover from. That’s not to say that my studies were the cause of my depression, but I certainly believed that it acted as a catalyst. It’s really interesting to see research papers that have been published in recent years such as Levecque et al’s (2016) paper ‘Work organization and mental health problems in PhD students’ which have discussed exactly this (I found this anonymous blog post on The Guardian website also interesting – It is important to note that I do not blame my supervisors or my institution, but it has shown me first hand the power of connection and belonging above all else. 

Following a brief stint in academia I felt burnout and decided to move to Thailand with my wife and what ensued was an extended period of multiple jobs and feeling deeply ‘lost’. One of the core roots of this was the shame I felt and carried for not ‘doing anything with my PhD’ and this was often compounded by (well-meaning) comments such as ‘why are you doing this if you have a PhD?’, ‘you must love a new job [laughing]’. But what I realised from this experience is (borrowing from the three pillars of wellbeing that I included in my previous blog… purpose, connection and stability) that I often felt that I was lacking in all three. Perhaps what I was mourning the most was the high-flying specialist academic career that I was hoping for where I could become an expert in an area of interest important to me.

Fast forward a few years and I am now writing this blog, and have become especially passionate about wellbeing in education, and I think that there are clear reasons why things have unfolded this way. One book that I found really encouraging in my [at least for now] retirement of a specialist-type career (the route that we’re often encouraged to take so that we can have the life we want by 30) was ‘Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World’ by David Epstein (2019) which refutes the culturally entrenched [but misinterpreted] ‘10,000 hour rule’ from Anders Ericsson and that in order to become ‘expert’ in a chosen field, it requires (amongst other things) dedicated practice, and an often singular path to excellence and all of the fruits that come with that. However, what this book demonstrated for me (for probably the first time) was that ultimately expanding your ‘range’ of knowledge, experiences and detours could in fact be of greater benefit, as in Epstein’s words ‘generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel.’ 

In my current role I am working with senior students in order to help them decide their path (and purpose) after school, and this is a book that I would love to distil the essence of and offer to them, particularly those that may also seem a little ‘lost’. I believe that the world needs both specialists and generalists to thrive, and that it’s ok whichever one you identify with. Listening to podcasts by the Belgian Psychotherapist, Esther Perel, I very much love the concept that she uses within the context of a romantic relationship that you can have multiple relationships (or marriages) with the same partner depending on the phase of life you are in (with tends to be punctuated by significant life events such as having children, experiencing loss, moving countries, etc) and that you are continually defining your relationship with your partner. To lend this to the topic of wellbeing and careers (which ultimately plays a important part in the pillars of wellbeing), what I would guide students towards understanding is that they may experience multiple different relationships to themselves and their careers over their lifespan and that’s ok. Finding a university course that leads you onto the path that you will stay on for multiple years is ok, taking a gap year (or two or three or more) is ok, studying for a degree that doesn’t end up being related to your later career(s) is ok. What’s important is that you see and believe in the value that you gain from these experiences, as you move forwards (or sideways) towards your own sense of purpose. 

Ultimately what I would tell students that I work with is that your future ‘is not my story to tell (or prescribe), but yours to write’ and that means a full acceptance of not who you will be but you as you are.


Epstein, D. (2019). Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World. London: Macmillan.
Levecque, L., Anseel, F., De Beuckelaer, A., Van der Heyden, J., & Gisle, L. (2016). Work organization and mental health problems in PhD students. Research Policy, 46, 868-879.

Is wellbeing ‘caught rather than taught’?

When preparing for the first issue of the WISEducation wellbeing newsletter, I reached out to friends, colleagues and other connections to ask whether they would be interested in writing an article on a wellbeing topic of their choice. In my mind I felt, perhaps some would argue naively, that everyone has something to offer when it comes to wellbeing. As many terms are, the concept of ‘wellbeing’ can be contentious and slippery, but in order for me to make sense of this I use the definition of ‘wellbeing’ offered by Davis (2019, p. 1 ), who states that wellbeing can be defined as “the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, and ability to manage stress.” This undoubtedly attaches a lot of weight to the term but in my own understanding, I think of my wellbeing as when I feel that I have purpose, connection and stability (or at least the feeling that I can cope with episodes of instability). 

A response I received several times from people that I knew and valued very much was that they either didn’t feel that they had expertise to offer, or they weren’t sure how their expertise could contribute in a meaningful way. I personally found this really interesting in a couple of ways, perhaps firstly that for me it reflects some degree of western thinking about education in that we don’t have much to offer if we don’t have a degree or masters in a subject, or have undergone a certain number of supervised hours to prove our competence. It also reminded me of a lecturer that I had (and very much respected) during my undergraduate degree who was trying to get us to stop giving our opinions and write more academically, and said something to the effect of ‘you don’t get to have an opinion until you have a PhD’. This certainly helped me to stop writing in the first person and helped me to construct my essays in a more considered and informed way, but it also saddened me a little. In relation to this and to the subject of wellbeing, I have always felt nothing qualifies us more to talk about wellbeing than merely being human and facing the challenges that life has to throw at us. In this sense, and perhaps this is slightly informed by the literature I have read on Motivational Interviewing more recently, I believe that we are all intelligent individuals and know deep down what is best for us (how to be well) but as humans life is complicated, histories are complex, and inherently being human on some level is to fail (and that’s ok). 

This is not to say that clinicians, CBT practitioners, psychiatrists don’t all have extremely valuable input when it comes to educating us, the general public, on mental health and wellbeing issues, but what I have come to understand through my own experiences (and from what I believe at this snapshot in time) is that the roles that schools can play in helping our own students to find purpose, connection and stability should serve at the root of our schools and organisations, and not as an add-on. In this sense if we used a Formula One analogy, wellbeing is how we construct the team that builds the car and works to the best of their ability for themselves and each other, and not the quick fixes or tire changes in the pit stops that enable the car to finish the race and rank themselves amongst others (much like the transition from school to university, work, and beyond). An article that I found really thought-provoking in this regard was entitled ‘Well-being programmes in schools might be doing children more harm than good’ by Professor Kathryn Ecclestone (2015 – Eccleston describes how a shift towards a preoccupation with teaching children and young people skills such as empathy, resilience, self-esteem and mindfulness have become a non-negotiable way to tackle a wide range of deep-seated problems such as obesity, teenage pregnancy, unemployment and ill-health. However, despite placing these metaphorical eggs into a metaphorical ‘one cure fixes all’ basket, there is simply little evidence that programmes that are aimed at improving young people’s emotional wellbeing are having any impact. The article concludes by saying that perhaps rather than interventions aimed at improving wellbeing in schools (which are arguably largely pointless), rather “well-being should come from the core business of education: a stimulating, enriched, challenging curriculum and extra-curricular activities.” (Ecclestone, 2015, p. 1). 

In a subsequent article, Eccleston and Rawdin (2016) offer a thoughtful and helpfully critique of discourses and policy relating to wellbeing in education (with a UK focus) and posit that more recent educational debates are suggesting that wellbeing is ‘caught rather than taught’ in the sense that “well-being might best be achieved through both imaginative and skilled teaching of particular subjects and a diverse curriculum.” (Ecclestone and Rawdin, 2016, p. 387). When reading this, the idea that wellbeing is not a curriculum that you are taught, but ideas and a way of being that you are exposed to and interpret and give meaning to, really resounded with me. Much in the way that I feel that different contributors with a wide range of life and professional experiences will have to offer by (kindly) sharing their thoughts and ideas on the WISEducation platform.

For me ‘wellbeing’ is not a destination we get to and are allowed to stay at (especially if we work hard and listen in class) but a feeling of purpose and connection that we can find in a multitude of ways. Perhaps the most important way that we can help our students to find that is to create an environment and relationships where they feel that they matter to us and we matter to them, and we can only do that by being the thing that unites us all, by being qualified as imperfectly human.


Davis, T. (2019). What Is Well-Being? Definition, Types, and Well-Being Skills. Retrieved from

Ecclestone, K. (2015). Well-being programmes in schools might be doing children more harm than good. Retrieved from

Ecclestone, K., & Rawdin, C. (2016). Reinforcing the ‘diminished’ subject? The implications of the ‘vulnerability zeitgeist’ for well-being in educational settings. Cambridge Journal of Education, 46(3), 377-393.

Inspired by… Motivational Interviewing in Schools: Conversations to Improve Behavior and Learning

If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is, but if you treat him as he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

As part of the WISEducation blog I thought that I’d quite like to share brief articles that have been inspired by books, articles and podcast episodes, that would serve half as a review, and half as a discussion point for both myself and anyone that has found their way to reading this blog. 

During the lockdown period one such book that I picked up was ‘Motivational Interviewing in Schools: Conversations to Improve Behavior and Learning’ by Rollnick, Kaplan and Rutschman (2016). Last summer I had the opportunity to attend a Motivational Interviewing workshop with Stephen Rollnick in Cardiff and it has provided me with a counselling and conversational framework that has guided many of my conversations with both colleagues and students since. 

Motivational Interviewing (MI) in essence focuses on improving one’s motivation to change through conversation, and in this book, Rollnick, Kaplan and Rutschman (2016) assure us that we can refine the skills that we already have in order to help inspire change through our schools, whether as an administrator, teacher, counsellor or support staff. Motivational Interviewing, by its own admission, is complex as it does not offer a 5-step process for change, rather MI done skillfully involves high-quality listening at its core. A layperson definition of Motivational Interviewing offered by Miller and Rollnick (2013, p. 12) states that:

“Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative conversational style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change.”

Whilst there isn’t the space to do MI justice here, I just wanted to bring up a couple of the core ideas related to MI that stood out for me when learning about this method, that may be useful in the international school context (and beyond) which undoubtedly leads to supporting wellbeing. The first is the ‘righting reflex’ which is an inclination to fixing the problem for the student. Sometimes when students present us with a dilemma, a quick and concise response may be what is needed, however trying to fix a problem for the student in the long run proves unsuccessful in bringing about motivation for change. Take for example a student in Maths class sitting down and saying ‘I just don’t understand how to do algebra, I’m never going to be able to do it’… to which a common response may take the form of ‘if you sit down and concentrate (and stop bothering David sitting next to you), and really try your best then your grade will improve.’ Whilst well-meaning, I’m not sure anyone saying to me ‘just try harder’ when I have found things genuinely challenging has really truly ever worked (perhaps only in the short term). Couple this with the concept of understanding ‘ambivalence’ which is central to MI, the notion that we all experience a sort of ‘mental chatter’ that allows your mind to go back and forth between ‘for’ and ‘against’ making a change. When students hear your ‘righting reflex’ or your making a case for change ‘just concentrate and try harder’, what you often hear back is ‘I’ve tried before but it never works’ and in doing this the student is telling us why change is not a good idea. What Rollnick, Kaplan and Rutschman’s (2016) book does very simplistically is to show how we can encourage students to hear themselves make a case for change, whether that be handing in homework on time, finding ways to motivate themselves in classes they struggle in, or how to motivate themselves to choose their future when it comes to applying for universities, rather than adults taking up that space for them. 

This book is really helpful at modelling some of these conversations which not only highlight and capitalise upon ‘change talk’ made by students, but also shows that through the use of affirmation and reflection (amongst other tools) we can help students feel heard and not judged. In our role within education it is important to note that whilst we often, in a well-meaning way, try to encourage students to do better, we inadvertently in the process highlight some sort of deficit within them, rather than focusing on the strengths that they show. What impresses me the most is not necessarily the high flying students that ace all of their tests, it is often the students that show up day after day, ready to try despite achieving results that leave them demotivated as well as hearing comments like ‘you’ll improve next time, you just need to try a bit harder’. If it was that simple then surely we as adults would also have everything figured out by now… but alas we meet the same sort of challenges as our students, we’re just not tested in the same public way.

At times I have struggled with the simplicity of MI because people not changing is often the result of us receiving some sort of benefit for keeping things as they are, for example if we are the student that fails and that becomes part of our identity, it shields us from the scariness of ‘What would happen if I tried? Would I ever be good enough?’ However, I have been able to experience first hand the benefits of giving students the space to find and build off their own motivation, and whilst in a egotistical way sometimes it’s nice if we play a role in that (isn’t that a part of why we choose jobs that help others), there’s nothing more empowering to see that people changing and doing things for themselves.


Miller, W.R., & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change (3rd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.
Rollnick, S., Kaplan, S.G., & Rutschman, R. (2016). Motivational Interviewing in Schools: Conversations to Improve Behavior and Learning. New York: Guilford Press.

What’s to come in Issue 1 – to be released on August 17th 2020!

Issue 1 is due for release on August 17th 2020 and we have lots in store to share with you… to give you a sneak peek a brief synopsis of some of the articles to come are described below:

‘The importance of giving back: Community Service and Leadership skills’: Athletic Director Laura Davies tells us about the Sports Leadership programme she has implemented at her school, and the work she is doing with NGO ‘Playonside’ based on the Thai-Myanmar border. In this article Laura reflects on what she has learnt about combining sports and community service, and how this has contributed to giving students a broader focus and appreciation of the local and global issues affecting the wider communities they inhabit.

‘The Wheel of Change: Re-setting the default button and creating change in a post lockdown era’: Former School Counsellor and counselling consultant, Alex Gunn, teaches us more about the ‘Wheel of Change’, and the opportunities presented to schools to reassess their wellbeing priorities post lock-down and how to go about creating positive change.

Other articles to be included in the first issue include the benefits of getting outdoors on our mental and physical wellbeing, how boarding school provision has been affected by COVID-19, what the pandemic has taught us about how we care for our students, and the heightened issue of gaming addictions post-lockdown.

If you would like to subscribe and receive a copy of our quarterly wellbeing newsletter (aimed at teachers, school counsellors, support staff, and anyone interested in wellbeing in and through education) as well as monthly blog updates, then please click on the subscribe button on our homepage. Alternatively feel free to email me at I look forward to sharing the newsletter with you all very soon!

Introducing the upcoming WISEducation Wellbeing Newsletter!

It is a great pleasure to introduce WISEducation’s very first Newsletter, due for release on August 17th 2020! I thought I might begin this blog (and jointly, newsletter) by providing you all with a little background. This newsletter came into existence following discussions with a former colleague and mentor, during which we identified a simultaneous growing demand for wellbeing-based materials designed for the international school context, and a significant gap in understanding of the complexities of wellbeing within these environments. This is further complicated by the blending of personal views, opinions and histories of students, staff and parents on some of the subject matters that the ‘wellbeing’ umbrella encompasses, particularly within territories and cultures that are not our own.

I would like to explain the rationale and scope behind this newsletter and vision going forwards, but first it may be useful to provide a more succinct definition of what we mean by wellbeing within the context of this newsletter. According to Davis (2019, p.1 ), wellbeing can be defined as “the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, and ability to manage stress.” The increasing focus on wellbeing in a school setting is perhaps beyond the scope of this introduction but it feels common sense to focus on this within a school environment. Further, a leading UK-based charity championing the wellbeing and mental health of young people, YoungMinds UK, produced a report in 2017 entitled ‘Wise Up: Prioritising Wellbeing in Schools’ which highlighted the current mental health crisis in schools, drawing attention to the notion that there is a staggering estimated three children in every classroom that have a diagnosable mental health problem, and that suicide is the most common cause of death in boys aged between 5 and 19 years of age (Office for National Statistics, 2015; 2016). 

Whilst it is important to acknowledge that these statistics are being reported from the UK, we can imagine, knowing our students in the capacities of teachers, support workers, or counsellors within an international school context, that indeed the problem of mental health difficulties are also very much prevalent within the communities that we work in. Whilst again it is important to recognise that this next piece to be highlighted was also UK-based, research by Professor Claudia Bernard (2017) at Goldsmiths, University of London sought to understand what is known about child neglect within affluent families. The report highlighted that there is currently a lack of empirical research that has indeed examined the experiences of children within affluent families, with the majority of research conducted to date having explored the relationship between childhood poverty and neglect. To this end, Bellis et al. (2014) has explicated that there is in fact a growing body of evidence to suggest that child neglect occurs to a significant extent from families belonging to the highest social classes. If you take this fact into account, along with the anecdotal understanding that international schools are rich in cultural diversity, that many families belong to a higher social status, and along with that often undertake time-demanding professions, it would suggest a need for a sensitive, and school and context specific, approach to wellbeing within the international school environment that we all have the opportunity to work within.

The role of wellbeing falls under different remits and looks different depending on the school curriculum of choice and the expertise of the staff available. Whilst at American Curriculum schools, the remit of wellbeing may well typically fall under the more established role of the School Counsellor, within British schools this may come under the umbrella of PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) and may or may not be solely delivered by classroom teachers and/or the school counsellor. 

Research into wellbeing into international schools is very young, with Dr Angie Wigford and Dr Andrea Higgins research in collaboration with ISC Research leading the way with their report they published in 2018 which was entitled ‘Wellbeing in International Schools’. This research aimed to identify how wellbeing was promoted within the international school context, and what the barriers to wellbeing were, as reported and recorded via a large online survey aimed at teachers and leadership staff. 

The hope of the WISEducation newsletter is to further add to this new but growing body of literature and understanding on wellbeing in international schools with the focus of the newsletter being threefold; (1) to provide a place for discussion on how international schools can provide wellbeing; (2) to showcase work being done within international schools; and (3) to provide a community for school teachers, counsellors, school leaders and parents to come together to support the wellbeing of their students and staff. This newsletter will be broad in its focus and will aim to discuss topical issues that affect the wellbeing of our international school community, to discuss the social-emotional challenges facing our communities, and will pay attention to university school counselling and guidance. Our aim is to ensure that we provide spaces where our students can grow into globally minded, socially and culturally conscious young people, that are equipped with the tools and resources that they require to overcome challenges, learn from failures, and achieve success at school and beyond. I very much hope this newsletter provides you with ideas, contacts and a community that is beyond the words in these pages.

Thank you for your support of this endeavour. I hope you find this blog/newsletter useful in your wellbeing journey.

Dr Sadie Hollins


Bellis, M.A., Hughes, K., Leckenby, N., Hardcastle, K.A., Perkins, C., & Lowey, H. (2014). Measuring mortality and the burden of adult disease associated with adverse childhood experiences in England: a national survey. Journal of Public Health, 37(3), 445-454.

Bernard, C. (2017). An Exploration of How Social Workers Engage Neglectful Parents from Affluent Backgrounds in the Child Protection System. Retrieved from—Neglect-in-Affluent-Families-1-December-2017.pdf

Davis, T. (2019). What Is Well-Being? Definition, Types, and Well-Being Skills. Retrieved from

Higgins, A., & Wigford, A. (2018). Wellbeing in International Schools: The 2018 Report. Retrieved from

Office for National Statistics. (2015). What are the top causes of death by age and gender? Retrieved from 

Office for National Statistics. (2016). Selected children’s well-being measures by country. Retrieved from 

YoungMinds (2017). Wise Up: Prioritising Wellbeing in Schools. Retrieved from


A little about myself and the WISEducation blog!

My name is Dr Sadie Hollins and I currently work as a Head of Sixth Form at an International School in Chiang Mai, Thailand. My background prior to working in international education was as a HE lecturer and researcher focusing on sport and sociology. After a decision to take a different life path, my partner and I moved to Chiang Mai, where we have based for the past four years. During this time I have had the opportunity to work in a residential rehab facility, and as a school counselor, before beginning my current role. Throughout this journey (or detour, depending on how you look at it!) I have becoming increasingly interested in the challenges that international education presents in terms of supporting the wellbeing of students and staff, particularly in the current climate, and would like to share this blog to tease out and invite further discussions. The blog will run concurrently alongside a quarterly newsletter containing articles from a range of expert contributors working in international education and associated settings. The aim of WISEducation as a whole will be to discuss topical issues affecting the wellbeing of international school communities, and explore the social-emotional challenges facing them. I welcome and encourage feedback, questions and discussions, and hope to build a supportive network of international educators that share the common goal of improving wellbeing in our communities.