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Six Suggestions to Support Student Wellbeing

Effective teaching anywhere is sparked by teachers and administrators who care. When students feel safe, supported, and secure, and finally fathom that failure plays a far-reaching and prominent part of the learning process, they feel reassured and more receptive to communicate with calmness, consistency, and kindness. Here are six suggestions to support student wellbeing.

1. Parents are Paramount Learning Partners

Across the world, in every nation, parents should be prominent learning partners in their children’s education. Research indicates that increased parent involvement not only enhances students’ overall academic performance, but it also has a positive influence on student attitude and behavior

Set a Positive Tone with Parents of ELLs

For English Language Learners (ELLs), especially, ensure that parents feel welcome in the school community and have opportunities to participate and volunteer. As I had penned in a previous TESOL-related piece, setting a positive tone at initial parent meetings and engaging in subsequent follow-though using bilingual books or multilingual communication materials for diverse families, establishes a team-based, reciprocal environment, and cooperative approach. 

Emphasize to parents, guardians, and family members that students should not lose their home languages while learning English, and that students’ mother tongues could be used as a scaffold to better decipher meaning, compare language nuances and structure, and ultimately augment and support learning English as a second or foreign language.

Six Suggestions to Support EducationPut Support Systems in Place with Parents of Children with IEPs

The home-school connection is also particularly paramount for children who have been diagnosed as having disabilities and have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Provide these parents with information to understand the modifications and supports put in place to ensure a safe learning space and scaffolds for overall success. Parents are pivotal in providing insights and information on their children’s behavior, emotional wellbeing, and academic strengths both inside and outside of school. They may also provide helpful information on a child’s academic learning history and social and emotional development, as well as any family or outside, additional factors that may impact learning and success in a classroom setting.

Address Parent Apprehensions Aptly

Address parent apprehensions aptly, and ensure information is readily available to establish transparency and trust. Communicating via ParentSquare and Remind may also augment leading from behind. Involved parents could help ensure children are rewarded when they meet measurable classroom goals. 

2. Team Up for Testing, but Remember Student Resting

Providing intermittent brain breaks may be welcome opportunities for students to briefly untwist and untwine from the heady, academic vine. Even adolescents may think it’s cool to take brain breaks at school. When it’s time to enhance study prowess, mindfulness can show how serenity endows us. Ready for middle school kids to thrive? Try one of these 25

Calm Down Kit

In the event that a student may become dysregulated, try having on hand a unique calm down kit. You may even want to personalize it for a particular child. A well-conceived calm down kit could be a reliable resource in a teacher’s toolkit to soothe an anxious child during challenging moments. Carefully-planned activities and events could be student-focused to be a catalyst for communication, spark motivation, and build unity within the community

3. Enhancing Mental Health means Growing Emotional Wealth

Emotional wealth” in a K-12 context refers to the successful management of age-appropriate mental and social-emotional development, as well as providing relevant resources on an as-needed basis. Students who continue to build emotional wealth fathom that reeling from resentment rapidly becomes a waste of time amidst a deep drain of emotional energy, so it would make more sense to act akin to Queen Elsa of Arendelle, to cast perturbation proverbially aside and simply, “Let It Go.” Students also build emotional wealth by standing up for others, fostering faith over fear, and by always choosing kindness. 

4. Career Surmiser? Think: Peer Adviser

A peer mentoring program could be established in K-12 schools, especially for adolescents, to help assist with emotional regulation and academic celebration. “Checking in” mornings and “checking out” afternoons may go a long way in making students feel emotionally safe and welcome back in buildings. These attentive actions may also keep them on task in class and on track for graduation.    

Support students’ physical, social, and emotional health needs by referring potential issues to school counselors, as well as any medical issues to the nurse. Planning in advance for conceivable potential problems could help mitigate issues once the school year starts. 

5. Promote Positive Practices to Curtail Classroom Conflicts

As an educator, I had collaborated with students at the beginning of each year to create a classroom charter. My goal was to prepare students to not only be an inspiration in the lives of others, but also to elevate them to be thoughtful thinkers and meaningful members of the school, making compassionate contributions to the community, and ultimately uplifting humanity. Students facilitated discussions by utilizing a talking stick to show respect, and learned the value of listening attentively, considering constructive feedback, and managing missteps. Ultimately, many of these missteps became teachable moments. 

Be Proactive, Not Punitive

According to Cory Collins, author of Toolkit: The Foundations of Restorative Justice, restorative practices refers to developing a more communal, collaborative system of communication rather than imposing harsh punishments. Collins also emphasized the use of restorative circles for pedagogues to facilitate group conversations to resolve community conflicts. This way, students take more ownership for their actions, tend to be more willing to collaborate, and communicate without prejudice when they feel they have collectively set the expectations to hold one another accountable.

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Six Suggestions for Student Wellbeing - Child 0f Nature

6. Support Service Learning Across Subjects

In a pertinent blog post, I had elaborated how service learning helps students develop confidence and tap into both interests and talent. Current issues to consider may include global warming, environmental conservation, and poverty alleviation. Precise lesson planning coupled with community outreach to organizations with reliable resources could offer opportunities for student reflection, appropriate assignments for students to pen pertinent papers, and/or a collaborative presentation to point out pertinent pondering.

With a wealth of resources available to teach and learn about service learning, invite students to become active participants in their own learning. Above all, it is important for students to have a strong voice in the process to deepen their understanding of the activities and to maximize learning opportunities. When students surmise that their contributions are considered and voices are valued, service-learning becomes a terrific tool to cultivate a caring classroom culture, touch up teaching, uplift learning, and enhance community empowerment. In sum, service-learning proves that the choices students make and the actions students take reveal the quintessential essence of who we, as humans, truly are: civil, productive, and united.

Since pandemic virus variants continue to circulate, practical school leaders and pragmatic pedagogues may also want to keep current on upgrading remote teaching and learning in the unfortunate event that students and staff members may temporarily not meet in buildings. In the meantime, let’s keep kindness in mind at all times, continue to improve the educational community, and collaborate to improve the learning environment for everyone. 

Scott Freiberger

Scott Freiberger is an assistant principal in New York. He is an attentive administrator and a passionate pedagogue who advocates for all students, especially ELLs/MLLs and students with support needs.

Originally published by LinkedIn Pulse on October 11, 2022. <https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/six-suggestions-support-student-wellbeing-scott-freiberger/>

Follow Scott on Twitter/X: @scottfreiberger

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