Student and Teacher Wellbeing (OneChannel QCT Webinar)

This was a 45 minute webinar run by Dr Sasha Lynn & Angela Wood, hosted by the QCT on OneChannel. These are my notes from the talk (video will be posted once released). The talk is some ways of thinking about social emotional learning for student and teacher wellbeing.

Note: social and emotional learning is part of the Australian Curriculum

First of all, take time to ask yourself, and to remember: Why are you a teacher? What drove you to the profession? How is your social emotional experience of being a teacher?

Here the word cloud from everyone who was there:

To achieve any of this as teachers, we need to focus on our own social-emotional wellbeing first–that’s a precondition. What do we need for wellbeing?

  • Sense of happiness
  • Sense of life purpose
  • Sense of physical health

If these are all important, how do we achieve them? Mindfulness is a good start:

Here’s a mindfulness exercise that they started the webinar with:

Stress is a real problem for so many teachers.

Also for students. And research suggests that students who go through a social-emotional learning course have higher academic outcomes (by over 10%). There is a powerful meta-analysis of research into the impacts of school-based social-emotional learning interventions by Durlak et al. (2011) [Note: the article has a paywall, but you can read the abstract and cite it].

Also: research suggests that teacher burnout affects the stress level of students they teach. And, similarly, increased teacher satisfaction and commitment improves student wellbeing. It’s totally complex. The takeaway is:

Fix your own oxygen mask first!

How to do this?

Specific idea: Try downloading a yoga app. Some are free for teachers.
General tips: Connect body to brain. Have routines. Say no. Short and sweet wellbeing activities are fine.

Useful mindfulness resources on Class Dojo:

For students

Be aware that emotion underpins cognition.

CASEL is a great source of resources where:

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL). CASEL supports educators and policy leaders and enhances the experiences and outcomes for all K-12 students.

The essence of this is how we can foster student wellbeing, growing these five things:

  • Self-awareness - show interest
  • Self-management - model consistence
  • Social awareness - team games
  • Relationship skills - free play
  • Responsible decision making - allow students to create rules

Play! Mindfulness! Connection! Emotion regulation!

If they are laughing, they are listening

So, some principles for maintaining wellbeing and running wellbeing exercises: keep it fun, keep it calm, keep to routines, use regular breaks, provide coping strategies (e.g., coping statements for the classroom “we can just try our best”).

Link: Educator perspectives on the impact of covid-19 on teaching and learning in Australia and New Zealand

There are plenty of social emotional learning programs out there. Even if your school can’t (or doesn’t want to) afford one there is plenty that you can do with what you can find for free out there.

Takeaways are:

  1. Well-being starts with you: fit your own oxygen mask
  2. SEL skills enhance learning and create a positive classroom culture
  3. SEL is part of what we do, not an addition to it
  4. SEL must be explicitly taught, but doesn’t have to be a burden

[More resources to follow once they’re sent out]

These resources are terrific. One tip that was shared in the webinar was the quote ‘If students are laughing, they are listening.’ A good reminder that many students respond to humour and it can be a very effective way to connect and let students know you have a personality as well as a teaching role.

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