Introducing Concepts of Well-being and Mindfulness to Form Class
This year I was Y9 Form teacher. I consider Y 9 Form class to be an ideal platform to start introducing and applying the concepts of well-being. Each term in 2018 contained a particular focus that should help students to be more aware of themselves and how their behaviour / habits contribute to their well-being. The idea was not just to make them realise their habits, but also to give them simple and achievable techniques to build own personal resilience and increase sense of well-being.
Positive Strength Based Approaches based on GROWTH Coaching System was utilised for all topics to build personal awareness and personal ownership to enhance student’s well-being and consequently reducing stress and improving their performance. Each topic had been introduced as a big question to which they would respond intuitively. Responses were shared with the whole class (via group discussions, writing on the white board, adding comments in Google classroom posts etc…), then the joint discussion would crystallize main ideas.
This would be followed by sharing resources, information and techniques that they can apply themselves. Then I would ensure to give class or individual students prompts in the following weeks and even throughout the year, by asking them how did they apply new approach and what did they discover in the process. It is very important not to skip this, as it will make students aware that it is important to keep working on building or changing certain habits. Otherwise, it would become just another delivery topic which will remain theory without long-term impact.
I’ve started the year with bringing attention to their strengths. It is very important for students to refocus on what they are good at, instead of pondering how they are bad at something. Their feedback was very positive (I’ve got a spontaneous applause!)and they’ve stated how they never before thought in such a manner.
In term two, the focus was on mindful communication: how to be mindful listener, mindful speaker and how to use technology in a mindful way. They were encouraged to become more mindful as users of technology and to become aware of how mindful they are when communicating with others. I used this to have individual conversation with few students after their mid-year reports, where it was obvious that they would benefit from being more mindful listeners during their classes.
In term three, the focus shifted towards learning process: recognising personal learning style, analysing personal learning habits and sharing study tips with peers. This enabled them to explore their potentials and become more confident during their study and assessments, as well as to understand themselves better again.
During term four, we looked into time management and personal organisational skills. It has been acknowledged by the students that this related to achieving less stress on a daily basis and during school exam time. Students were appreciative of becoming familiar with certain techniques and they acknowledged during class discussions that knowing these techniques does help in becoming more confident and organised. Many expressed that it is useful for them to learn about it as ‘no one else told us so’.
During this whole year journey, few points crystallised for me: Firstly, students should be introduced to the concepts and techniques to become familiar and aware of them. Secondly, they truly appreciate if they learn ‘how to’ and can apply it in a simple small steps. Thirdly, this is an ongoing process, which should be implemented in a small steps with regular repetitions, that students can gradually build habits within daily life. Someone can think these are common sense routines, yet large number of young students are not aware of it and will not use it for own well-being if not guided towards it. As additional benefit, sharing these experiences over the year built more positive relationships and strengthen them within the class group.