Ten steps to support student wellbeing in 2020

in News

When the whole community is going through a hard time, there are key steps to safeguarding students’ wellbeing:

  1. Normal routines
  • Plan predictable days with clear timelines and reasonable goals.
  • Effectively supervise learning spaces.
  • Calmly and clearly explain changes to the routine.
  • Remind students that school is a happy place through fun activities.
  • Where safe to do so, run extracurricular activities like sport and music.
  • Make reasonable adjustments if necessary – e.g. shorter activities broken up by physical movement.

  1. High expectations for behaviour
  • Clearly explain the school’s values and the behaviour you expect.
  • Recognise that this is a tough time but kindness and respect are vital.
  • Respond promptly to antisocial behaviour, with logical and reasonable consequences.
  • Put in place accessible channels for students to report bullying and cyber bullying.
  • Ensure your Acceptable Use Agreements are clear, reasonable, and age-appropriate.

  1. Appropriate communication about COVID-19
  • Listen supportively if students want to talk.
  • Answer questions in a simple, calm, age-appropriate way.
  • Emphasise what adults are doing to keep everyone safe.
  • Encourage students to talk about positive things, like the skills they’ve learned and the ways they’ve coped.
  • Where appropriate, incorporate credible, scientific information into the curriculum.
  • Place reasonable limits around COVID-19 conversations.
  • Don’t get drawn into personal opinions or speculation.
  • Encourage help-seeking for students who are distressed.

  1. Creativity and physical movement
  • Art, music, dance
  • Physical exercise
  • Relaxation and meditation
  • Writing
  • Free play (gently redirect games if a student is upset or ‘stuck’)
  • Stories about characters who face challenges and resolve them.

  1. Optimism and celebration
  • Create opportunities for students to set goals, achieve them, and celebrate.
  • Praise students explicitly for things they’ve done well.
  • Draw students’ attention to the strengths and skills they’ve learned.

  1. Relaxing, welcoming spaces

Even from a distance, teachers can encourage students (and parents) to:

  • Identify places where they feel welcome, safe and happy
  • Decorate their learning spaces
  • Notice things in nature that make them happy – e.g. birds, trees, animals
  • ‘Regreen’ spaces – e.g. by watering, weeding, planting flowers, or growing herbs
  • Create calm zones with comforting activities or toys.

  1. Meaningful decision-making by students
  • Helping other students who are new, younger, or struggling.
  • Creating their own resources about cyber safety and positive uses of technology.
  • Choosing learning activities or assignment topics.
  • Discussing school strategies – e.g. through the SRC.

  1. High-quality social and emotional learning (SEL)
  • Long-term
  • Evidence-informed
  • Delivered to the whole class
  • Delivered by staff whom students know and trust
  • Builds emotional regulation, creative and critical thinking, relationships, and resilience.

  1. Mental health strategies
  • Coordinate with wellbeing staff and external support services
  • Provide professional learning on topics including:
    • Mental health first aid
    • Trauma-sensitive classrooms
    • Spotting the signs of post-traumatic stress
    • Managing disclosures.
  • Self-care, mentoring, and ‘buddy systems’ for teachers.

 Further reading 


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