Bridging learning and well-being
Gabriela Néspoli is someone who speaks with her hands, like a conductor of an orchestra directing your attention with a gesture. What she invites educators to focus on, for themselves and for their students, is well-being.
“Well-being is not a privilege, it’s not a buzzword,” she says. “It is not a second priority; it’s a fundamental component of learning.”
When she enrolled in the GSE’s 11-month master’s program in Learning Design and Technology (LDT) in 2021, she says the intensity of the curriculum gave her a chance to experiment. Néspoli jokes she soon was her own meta project for well-being: Could she exercise for at least 20 minutes daily? Could she abide by her commitment to take Sundays off? Could she rest?
Now back in her home country of Brazil, Néspoli says she continues to relearn these lessons each week as an educational entrepreneur and consultant. In the LDT program, “I fell in love with the process of combining research and design methods to develop products and experiences that help people reach their potential,” she says. “So I launched a learning design consultancy.”
Partnering with organizations in Brazil and internationally, she works to help young people and adults alike flourish, through tools that deepen their expertise while sparking curiosity, inspiring creativity, and fostering critical thinking and their sense of belonging. She has also created an online program, Project Florens, to support educators in learning well-being techniques and connecting with fellow practitioners.
Prior to coming to Stanford, Néspoli worked at the Lemann Foundation, the largest nonprofit foundation in Brazil, where she designed and implemented educational projects and policies – driven always by the desire to contribute to a more socially just world. “The root of positive change is education,” she says. “It all starts with education.”