Shirley has been working at NZIE for 14 years. From team leader, Head of Department and Program Leader of the PELT department, Shirley is the Wellbeing coach for NZIE’s Client Success Team. She has experience as a 24/7 phone counsellor, as well as many years of experience teaching students of all ages.
Shirley’s role as a wellbeing coach
Shirley is available to talk to students who are struggling with their studies:
“If any students want to discuss anything that might be affecting their wellbeing in a safe environment, confidentially, they can get in touch with me. We can chat on zoom or phone, whatever is most comfortable.
I can refer students to professional and community services that are available. This includes counselling and financial advice.”
Common issues that arise for students
Shirley says many students are “juggling” a large number of tasks and responsibilities, whilst also studying full time.
“They might be working full time, and they come in very enthusiastic but life gets in the way. Anxiety, financial pressures. Priorities change. Some students have to work more and have less time to study.”
Sometimes all students need is a listening ear to make them feel better.
“Quite often it’s just having somebody listen to them so they can get it off their chest. That can be quite helpful in itself.”
Te Whare Tapa Whā model
The Client Success team uses the Te Whare Tapa Whā model to check which areas students need extra support.
“It could be a physical thing such as lacking in sleep. We’d find some tools to help with that. It could be meditation, relaxing music or even be herbal tea. Discussing what can be realistically implement that’s not too onerous or complicated…just simple things that can make a big difference.”
Pictured below is a diagram of Te Whare Tapa Whā:
Tools and resources that can help students
Shirley has a huge amount of resources which she uses to help students in need.
“It’s not a one size fits all. Every student is individual: some students will be not into mediation at all so we’ll look at something else. They might say ‘I used to like drawing.’ Maybe they can get a sketch pad? It can be they forget to drink water. [Some] basic, obvious things – but they might be so busy.”
Top wellbeing tips while studying
Shirley recommends setting boundaries, both personally and within relationships, to navigate a study schedule. “At 5 pm, close your computer, and go for a walk around the block to mark the end of your work or study day. Have a bit of a detox with screen time.”
Find a study group
While you are studying online, there are many students studying with NZIE all over New Zealand. Shirley recently spoke to a student who formed a study group in Christchurch with fellow NZIE students. “It’s really cool to hear. Connecting in person – that’s encouraging.”
Don’t be afraid to reach out
“It’s fine to not to be okay. Don’t feel afraid to reach out. It’s a sign of strength if you need some support. Don’t struggle on, don’t wait until you’re at breaking point. It’s better to come in earlier, then we can set you up with tools to help.
That’s the whole point, we’re in this together. We really want you to succeed. For you and for us as well.”
Set good routines
“Set up good self-care routines and make it a priority. When you are feeling the pressure with your studies…take a break. Get out for a walk and do something that you enjoy. Look into breathing exercises or simple yoga.”
No student left behind
“Often students say they feel supported. They say their tutors are awesome, and they can’t do enough; the wellbeing support at NZIE is kind of like a wrap around. That is the point of difference between us and a big tertiary institute. [We] get to know each student as individuals. We keep saying ‘no student left behind’. We want to support them all.”
You can contact Shirley through Client Success Advisor, Janaina Chaves Aguiar [email protected]