Educators are acutely aware of the importance of addressing mental wellness. They are so often on the front lines fighting bullying, low self-esteem, unhealthy coping mechanisms and more. That’s why EVERFI created Mental Wellness Basics, a resource for students to learn about creating and maintaining a positive relationship with their own mental wellness. But we also know that educators can learn from one another and better their approach.
In last week’s #EVERFIedchat, educators, mental health professionals, and EVERFI joined together to discuss mental wellness, its effect on student performance, and tools to help better address this topic with students.
Q1: What are typically the most common stressors in your students’ lives?
All students experience varying levels of stress, some of which disrupts their learning process. Educators should be aware that students can be disproportionately affected by stress based on their socioeconomic status, race, or ability, but LeLe Geib M.Ed provided a poignant reminder.
#EVERFIedchat A1 my students are constantly struggling. They are tired of being looked at as less than because of their IEPs. They stress about so much yet try just as hard to mask it
— LeLe Geib M.Ed. (@Leighanne_geib) August 14, 2019
Students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) often experience isolation from their peers whether due to perceived differences or from being pulled from typical classes or assessments regularly. These stressors can have a significant effect on student self-perception.
Q2: How can teachers help students manage the pressures of social media?
A2: This is tough – so much of our students’ social lives are outside of school but SM affects all aspects of their lives. Be positively proactive not reactive – provide tools to successfully navigate. #EVERFIedchat https://t.co/cGzRI8BWY9
— Alyssa Lyons (@MahramusAlyssa) August 14, 2019
Alyssa Lyons advocates for an information-forward, proactive approach. How can we expect kids to make the right choice without all the information?
Q3: What ideas have you seen to create school or classroom environments that alleviate stress?
Mrs. Gray views relationship-building as a cornerstone of stress relief.
A3: After relationships are built with students they feel like they can talk to you in a judgement free zone! #EVERFIedchat
— Mrs. Gray (@FACS_Teacher1) August 14, 2019
Teaching healthy coping mechanisms helps create a happier classroom, more effective students, and a more cooperative, inclusive school community.
Or get creative – Jeffrey Austin shares a unique but simple way to get to know students.
I’m interested in students’ stories + understanding their contexts. We all want willing audiences to hear who were are. This allows me to honor their literacies + value their funds of knowledge. I have students build Cabinets of Curiosity to help me learn more. #EVERFIedchat pic.twitter.com/A3xD6PvMbz
— Jeffrey Austin (@MrAustinA2) August 14, 2019
Q4: How do you model mental wellness for students?
Modeling is the primary way to imprint upon students the attitudes and behaviors we would most like to see. As Stephanie Stokes says, it starts with getting it wrong and owning it.
A4 We all make mistakes. Modeling grit and how to get back up and start over. When students see their teachers fail it shows them it’s ok (and it’s usually not a big deal!) #EVERFIedchat
— Stephanie Stokes (@StephanieEdTech) August 14, 2019
Unfortunately, failure is inevitable. Teaching students healthy ways to respond to failure can really set them up for success!
Q5: What are strategies or lessons you use to teach kids how to manage their stress?
Mindful breathing and meditation are great options for an easy daily ritual like Ali Kirchberger’s class.
A5: #EVERFledchat We do one minute of mindfulness breathing every morning in our restorative circle. Then, when a st seems stressed during the day, I invite them back to their deep breaths.
— Ali Kirchberger (@AliKirchberger) August 14, 2019
If your students aren’t into that, they might enjoy a music break, like Eileen Lennon’s school.
A6-My school has introduced relaxing music during work periods. It calms and centers the students. #EVERFIedchat
— Eileen Lennon (@eileen_lennon) August 14, 2019
Or, take the pressure off entirely, like Brian T. Donohue.
A5: I always tell my students, make my class the one you worry about the least. I know you’ll get the work done, let’s just check in and keep open lines of communication about how stressed out you are. Stress about math. Kids dislike ENG and reading enough as it is. #EVERFIedchat
— Brian T. Donohue (@BrianTDonohue77) August 14, 2019
Q6: How is mental wellness aligned to social emotional learning?
As Mykel J. Estes said, the two concepts are not the same, but are definitely related.
— Mykel J. Estes, MEd (@EdTechMykel) August 14, 2019
Gretchen Dorn illuminated on the interplay of these concepts action.
A6. In SEL, were working with S in classroom in different ways to deal with different emotions. Mental health is a very important aspect of emotion, and we need to know signs to look for in any S for depression. #EVERFIedchat
— Gretchen Dorn (@gdorn1) August 14, 2019
Q7: How can teachers destigmatize conversations around mental health and well-being?
Start the conversation with your own experiences, like Miss Ashley Shanley suggests.
A7. Teachers can help destigmatize mental health by making it apart of everyday conversation. Give examples in your life and maybe Ss will relate. #EVERFIedchat
— Miss Ashley Shanley (@MsAshleyShanley) August 15, 2019
Q8:How do you practice self-care, and what is the impact on your overall wellness?
Here’s what we suggest:
A8: Educators are consistently wearing many different hats — even within one day! It’s important for teachers [and students!] to have mental + physical breaks throughout the day and year. #EVERFIedchathttps://t.co/BEm8mlRtIP
— EVERFIK12 (@EVERFIK12) August 14, 2019
What do you plan to do to keep up with your mental health this school year?
We hope you enjoyed EVERFI’s first-ever #EVERFIedchat! We are looking forward to next month’s #EVERFIedchat on September 11, 2019, at 7 PM EST where we’ll discuss career readiness. Won’t you join us?