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  • Writer's pictureJames Kieft

My approaches to student well being

Updated: Apr 18, 2022

In this month's blog post we’re going to explore some of my approaches to student Well-being in Teaching and Learning. As has been the case with my previous three blog posts, this one also links to the theme of this month's #TeamsEDUchat. The Twitter chat will take place on the 19th of April so if you’re interested in joining that search the #TeamsEduchat.

As teachers, we all know the importance of creating a supportive and safe environment so the students feel comfortable contributing to lessons. (For those who have not read my previous blog posts, I work at a group of Further education colleges in the UK, students are typically 16yrs or older.) For me, the process of creating a supportive and safe environment typically starts during the taster day and then continues during the induction.

As I mentioned in my previous blog posts, I have found that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the way students approach their learning. At the college, we have seen a greater number of students who suffer from anxiety and others who now found it difficult to remain focused in lessons as they have not had that much experience with this formal type of learning during the past few years.

When it comes to students' well-being the first thing I always try to do is talk to each of the students when they arrive at the class, to free myself up to enable me to do so. I set a group activity for the students to do as they arrive.

The instructions for that activity are either displayed on the projector screen at the front of the classroom or printed out and left on their desks. The activity is something that the students can get on with straight away as they arrive and this frees me up to stand at the door and greet the students, it also allows me to have one to one conversations with them checking how they are feeling and if there are any problems giving them an opportunity to raise them directly with me and not have to do it in front of all of their peers.

The second thing I always like to do, usually as part of the activity at the start of the lesson, is to give students opportunities to reflect on how they are feeling. If it’s the start of a new week it may be related to how they are feeling about that week. Or it could be more specific about how they feel about the topic we are going to cover during the lesson. I tend to do this via a poll. Polls are useful as students can contribute anonymously but I can see who said what, Typically I’ll do the poll using either Microsoft forms or Mentimeter .

At the end of the lesson, it is great to revisit the same poll and get them to submit how they are now feeling about that particular topic that they’ve just covered to get a rough indication of distance travelled, certainly within the mind of the student how they are now feeling about that topic.

Just recently Microsoft launched the ‘Reflect’ app which is available within Microsoft teams. The app enables you to do a poll where students can choose from the various emojis to say how they’re feeling. There’s a whole bank of different question types that you can ask and students respond by choosing the most appropriate emoji that sums up how they are feeling.

Here is my video guide on using Microsoft reflect app within Microsoft teams.

In my experience, one of the causes of student anxiety can be linked to the sheer amount of work that students have to do, and this can impact their well-being. To help them manage their tasks, I get them to make use of Microsoft To-Do. It is an easy way to create a to-do list. Microsoft To-Do can be accessed directly or from within Outlook or Teams. Students can create different lists for each topic and then have tasks within those topics, students find it a really nice way to help organise themselves. I have found it works well when students are working on independent projects and are at different points in the project.

Here is an example of how I use it during a lesson. At the start of the lesson, I will get them to update their to-do list and make sure that they have clearly identified which of their to-do targets they’re going to focus on during that lesson. Then at the end of the lesson, I will go through and ask them to update how far they progressed within those targets and set a new target for the next lesson or for homework.

Here is my video guide on using Microsoft To-Do.

The final thing I like to do when it comes to student well-being is to celebrate students' achievements during that lesson. I tend to do this at the end of the session as part of a recall and review activity. That could be in the form of a quiz, or it could be related to the tasks they have completed during the lesson. It provides them with a sense of achievement and is a great way to end the lesson on a high.

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