Teacher Tools- Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Classroom
Teachers and school officials do not have the job of preventing the act of suicide. Suicide is only prevented by each of us making the choice to live.
Teachers and school officials instead need to focus on improving each student’s sense of well-being. Keep in mind that anything that increases the perception of well-being will be beneficial to students, but everything that does this will not benefit each student equally.
Students are individuals with their own perceptions and factors affecting their sense of well-being and these tools will not work for every student and they work better for some students than others. However, some student out there will benefit from each of these tools.
Having a full toolbox means as a teacher you are more likely to have something that will benefit the majority of your students. The following is a list of strategies to help fill your toolbox and/or use as a starting point to help you brainstorm for your own ideas.
1.Taking the time to evaluate your own mood, destress, and promote positivity throughout the classroom not only benefits the students, but you as well.
2. Be mindful of your own well-being as a teacher. Students sense and feed-off of teachers negative emotions. The more you feel stressed so do they.
3. Practice with students in staying in the here and now by focusing on each of the senses by stating what you feel, hear, feel, and see in any given moment the class needs to destress
4. Do other types of short meditation exercises such as everyone imaging they are in their favorite place.
5. Read some inspirational quotes aloud.
6. Display positive and inspirational quotes and pictures throughout the classroom.
7. Be clear and precise in your rules, expectation, and consequences for breaking rules.
8. Always follow through with those consequences as stated. This isn’t always easy when there are justifications for leniency. Just remember if you give an inch ; they are going to take a mile which only invites chaos.
9. Use leniency with extreme caution.
10. Be willing to give yourself and students constructive small 5-10 minute mental breaks throughout the day. Especially if you notice the majority of your class starting to fidget or they have work hard to understand a new concept. Learning is much easier when given opportunities to focus attention elsewhere and refocus on learning.
11. Do yoga stretches or other types of exercises during these breaks.
12. Chewing gum is a proven benefit for students.
13. Music sets an atmosphere in a room. Try playing soothing or classical music as students enter the classroom and anytime they need be settled down.
14. Be willing to think outside the box and try new things within the classroom. School is about learning. The learning process needs to be our priority not tests or grades. The more you know and understand about which tools work best for you and being teacher; the greater the benefit is to your students.
15. Always remember; just because you taught a lesson doesn’t mean that the student learned that lesson. If you focus on students learning the lessons the teaching will happen automatically. However, if the focus is on teaching then the learning won’t always take place. Focus on learning and not teaching everyone will be successful.