Article published 31 August 2023

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Focus on well-being at the International School in Älmhult, Sweden

The International School in Älmhult invests wholeheartedly in increased well-being among the students at the school. The Fly Five initiative is based on the idea that safe students who feel good also achieve better results.

For a year now, the International School in Älmhult has started every day with morning meetings in the classrooms. Teachers and students check in and talk about how they feel to connect with each other and to create an even better sense of community. In total at the school there are more than 45 nationalities represented and the importance of getting to know each other and developing together is important.

It's fun to go to school, when I wake up I feel like I want to go to school. I feel safe and have many friends, says Ali, who is in 7th grade.

So far, it is too early to say how the project has affected school results, but Maria Haglund, principal is convinced that they are on the right track, as they rely on existing research when it comes to creating good conditions for students' learning.

Well-being gives results

The school has been working for some time with the initiative "Fly Five". The project is a training for teachers on how they can use and benefit from social and emotional learning. Learning is based on five key pillars – cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy and self-control. Areas in which students develop and benefit from learning throughout the rest of their lives.

These competencies are needed for almost every social relationship and also for the work environment to work in the classroom. It is also needed for students to improve the willingness to seek help, express needs and develop self-esteem, says Shane Tastad, School Counselor for MYP.

Some students have brought mindfulness exercises home, and parents say this allows them to talk about feelings more openly with their children, he adds.

Safety and joy at school

The goal is to create an even better working environment for staff and students, which in turn benefits the students' development. PYP School Counselor Sanne Anne Verdonk, believes that it is extremely important that students feel safe and welcomed in school.

Sometimes it’s just important to have fun together and to be seen" she says. When educators get to know students better and there is a positive connection , it becomes easier to help them find an inner motivation to achieve. We also see that the students are fairer to each other.

Teacher Ye Eun Back is positive:

We teachers have gained an increased understanding of how we can motivate students and create positive and trusting relationships. Subject knowledge is important, but so is the students' knowledge of themselves. Studies show that knowing how the brain works makes you struggle a little more. But it's also about not being afraid to fail.

Culture that develops in the long term

Maria Haglund is positive about being involved in spreading the knowledge to more schools and educators and believes that the International School in Älmhult will retain the working methods for a long time to come.

– I see a strong connection to the school's values and we can also see that it is very important in an international school that the students quickly become part of a new group and that you learn to express your feelings in a new language and in a nuanced way, she says.

This is what all schools should have their focus on, concludes the School Counselor Sanne Anne, referring to the work of weaving social and emotional learning into the school environment which provides students with the right mindset to learn.