Following up from the honor of being selected in Huffington Posts Top 12 Global Education Blogs of 2014-2017 I have been chosen again in this amazing group and for 2018 will be contributing to Huffington Post’s Education blog once a month. This month we look at the following highly controversial topic “How are you promoting well-being, health, and happiness in your classrooms?” – here is my response:
A recent global study by the OECD shows well-being among youth is at an all-time low. In a volatile and uncertain, complex world that we live in it is more important than ever for educators to actively teach and promote positivity, well-being, and happiness.
In my classroom (and with teams I lead) I am a huge believer in positivity and optimism. I believe my role as a teacher/leader is to embrace positivity and encourage others to do the same. I like to think that one of my key roles is to help develop healthier and happier people who can learn.
Here are 6 ways to promote well-being, health and happiness in your school:
- Know your people – One of my top tips for creating a positive school culture is to learn your student’s names and take a genuine interest in what they like, dislike and how they function. Ask them questions and figure out what makes them tick. Build a relationship and let them know you care. A caring culture breeds caring people.
- Encourage Laughter and Humour – Having fun and having a laugh together is an element of my daily life. Humour is important to me and I believe, is a critical element of any flourishing school. Here are some fun ways to integrate humour into your classroom and school. I like to use fun brain breaks with both students and educators to help them relax and prepare their brain for further learning. Here is an example of one of my favorites.
- Run Community Workshops – Engaging your community is critical to developing positive culture. Being able to share real, tangible learning experiences with your wider community is important, especially around the themes of positivity, well-being, and happiness. As a parent, I want to know what my children are doing and nothing makes me happier than being involved in their life. Learning about how they learn and learning how I can be a better parent to them is important. Be sure to offer parents a wide variety of sessions and workshops to engage them in learning. At my school, we recently ran this Social Media and Your Teen night which was a HUGE success.
- Know the Statistics – There are so many statistics out there about kids, happiness and well-being as it is a buzz right now. All of which are extremely important. Do research and openly share them. Research like this from the OECD and this from Common Sense Media are well-respected sources to use to inform your school’s digital well-being program. I also love this graphic showing what happens in an internet minute. It is a real eye-opener for teachers and parents to help them understand how to adapt their daily practices and strategies to suit the changing needs of their young ones.
- Develop an effective and positive pastoral care program – I believe that all schools should have a thorough K-12 pastoral care program with particular emphasis on positive education. We need to teach our learners how to be strong, safe, happy and kind of a volatile and often scary world. This article includes an excellent 10-point plan to help schools revisit and apply a successful pastoral care program.
- Student Agency – A passion area of mine! Student voice and choice is important if you are to truly embark on a positive culture change. Let students be involved in decision making and empower them by including them as much as possible. Whether it is classroom redesign or a simple student well-being program, your learners should be your first point of contact and should always be at the forefront of your mind!
In this complex world, it is critical to empower our young people to be happy, healthy and equipped with a powerful toolkit of resources to thrive.