Cultivating Belonging and Connection

Matthew Borg shares how their institution was able to create a place for their staff and students alike where they feel a sense of belonging and have a positive impact on each individual's life.

An ibasho for staff and students

Nick: This reminds me of the word ibasho, which is another word I think we both love. A very basic definition is ‘this place where you can be’, but in research is this place where you feel safe and secure. You have the tools and support to be empowered, and you self-actualize.

So it kind of sounds like your school has become an ibasho for staff and students. So does it feel like an ibasho? Because when we spoke last time, you told me that the school was in trouble, and you were asked to go to this school, and try and save it. And you've obviously done that. So has it become an ibasho of sorts?

Andrew: I totally believe so. Both with the students and the staff, which is over the space of four years, we've seen our positive endorsement in our staff opinion survey, which is put out annually by the Department of Education here in Victoria.

We've actually seen it go from about 60% positive rating to four consecutive years of over ninety, which is really above state level. So the state level of positive endorsement for education settings in the public system is around 75% annually.

And us to be over 90 is just demonstrating that whatever we are putting in place currently in our empowerment culture is forming connection and belonging to an environment where everyone is leading that learning experience.

So the ibasho idea is something where we come to a place to provide learning experiences for students in where we find ourselves experiencing states of flow, and connection, that is just as connecting and resonates just as much with people as their own home life.

So as educators, a few of us primary schools, we actually talk about how this is not a place where we come to work as such, this is just the space that we spend the daytime hours in, and actually have an impact on individuals and each other, that is beneficial for our whole society.

So it's about creating a space of belonging, connection, being able to feel safe in that environment. And establishing values that are shared values within our community, that we can actually help each and every individual connect with their own ikigai within the workspace or the school space, and also their own home space as well.