How To Improve Student And Teacher Wellbeing At The Same Time
Student wellbeing is defined in the NSW, Australia Wellbeing Framework as
“more than the absence of physical or psychological illness… wellbeing can be described as the quality of a person’s life.”
Student and teacher wellbeing are closely linked, and both impact student achievement and outcomes.
Adopting some simple practices in the classroom can improve the quality of life for both your students and yourself.
Improve wellbeing by teaching students to name their feelings. As Dan Siegel says, “If you can name it, you can tame it”.
Set up a mood monitor in your class which gives students opportunities to identify how they feel. Follow up with those students who may need additional support by asking them what they need. While you don’t have to be the school counsellor, you can give students who are not feeling so great, a chance to take a break, go for a walk or get a drink so that they can then be ready to engage in the learning.
Show how you manage your feelings with the students by talking about how you feel and then what you do about it.
For example you can say, ‘ I am feeling a bit unfocused at the moment so I am going to breathe deeply and have a drink of water’.
Teach About Strong Emotions
Hold a class meeting or SEL lesson and have students brainstorm ways to deal with feeling angry or upset such as losing a game on the playground, feeling frustrated with school work or classmates.
Role play effective strategies to use at this time. Explicitly teaching and practicing these strategies at school, increases the likelihood that you will use them in your personal life too!
Gratitude has been proven to increase levels of teacher and student wellbeing. Provide opportunities for students to reflect at the end of the lesson or day on what went well and how they contributed to making good things happen.
Model the behaviour and look after your own level of gratitude at the same time. Share your gratitude stories with your students and demonstrate gratitude to them.
Positive Time Out
Incorporate a calming space in your classroom available for any students to use. Include colouring, playdough, fiddle toys, soft furnishings in a clearly defined space.
Provide Student Voice
Provide opportunities for students to air their opinions and problem solve issues in the classroom.
Collaborate with students about class, teacher and student expectations giving students a say in how the class is run, what the behaviour management system will look like and how they can help repair and restore when relationships have been damaged.
Give students choice
Giving choice in what, when and how they work and make it obvious. Having agency in your life is important for a healthy perspective and knowing that you can change your response to the events of your life.
Incorporating wellbeing strategies for your students will promote your wellbeing as a teacher and if your health and happiness is increased so is your effectiveness as an educator, directly impacting student achievement.