It’s true when they say schools serve as a second home and teachers are second parents. Because of this, we educators should show great compassion and care towards our students. This concern means keeping an eye on their well-being, including their mental health.
But it isn’t always easy getting kids and teens to open up. So how can we check on our kids and get them the help they need? Here are some creative ways.
Journaling can be a useful tool when in class. Ms. Erin Gruwell, a high school teacher, proved this. She gave her students the task of writing in a diary every day and was able to get a good insight into why her students behaved the way they did. Not only that, but she was also able to help them with the issues they struggled with. Her story has since reached the big screen as a favorite movie. “Journaling is great for enhancing self-awareness through helping us detect and track patterns of behavior, thoughts, and feelings.” Alison Stone, LCSW said.
This technique will allow you to find out problems that your students are dealing with. These issues often affect their mental well-being. The more you know about what’s bothering them, the more you’ll be able to provide them with guidance and help.
A photo went viral on social media late in March, showing how a teacher checks in on her students. Jessie Cayton begins her day by asking her kids to write their name on the back of a post-it and stick it onto a whiteboard according to how they feel that day. The moods range from “I’m great” to “I wouldn’t mind a check-in.” This board helps her monitor how her students feel and see which of them needs help the most.
Another way that this practice is useful is that the whole class will see that it’s okay to have struggles. It can be very pressuring to have to be happy all the time. It also encourages the other students to have the initiative to check in on their classmates. Thus, the practice promotes compassion between peers.
Have One-On-One Time
As busy as teachers’ schedules are, it can be beneficial to spend some one-on-one time with your students. Set aside maybe 10 to 15 minutes after class to talk to one of your students. The following day, do the same with someone else.
Teens and children may find this scary, but this is the time where you can show them that you’re not the scary authoritative educator they may think you are. This one-on-one talk may be to chat or crack jokes with one another. Seeing you opening up about your struggles could lead to them feeling comfortable enough to share with you. From there, you’ll be able to know what kind of support you should be giving your kids.
It is a different approach to journaling and the check-in board. Set up a mailbox or regular box in your classroom of faculty room. Next, encourage your students to write letters to you about how they feel inside and outside of class. They can share problems, questions, and other concerns with you.
The reason why this can be effective is that most kids can be ashamed to approach their teachers directly. Having them write things down then send it in can give them a little more courage and confidence. “Some have found it valuable to keep journals and then go back and read them to see how far they have progressed.” Kathy Hardie-Williams, NCC, LPC, LMFT said.
Reach Out To Their Friends
It’s essential for us to have support groups. They’re the people we turn to when we have problems. If you genuinely want to help your students, it can be especially helpful for you to involve their peers and friends. Supporting them on your own won’t be as effective as getting a bunch of people to assist you.
Find out who your students’ friends are. From there, try to talk to them to get an idea of how they are doing outside of class. The kids may be more likely to open up about problems than your students themselves.
“Early intervention and treatment can make a difference in your child’s lives and future.”Andrea Vargas LMHC said. No matter what technique you decide to adapt, the main things that you’ll need to check on your kids are compassion and a readiness to listen. Without these, your students will likely not open up to you and allow you to help them. While communication goes two ways, you need to show initiative in trying to get to know them better. From there, you open up the way to get them to talk to you and for you to help them.