WELLBEING

In an effort to celebrate what’s great about teaching, we’re teaming up with BESA to throw ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful About Education’, a panel and networking event to be held at Chester Racecourse on 9th February. The event will be free-of-charge for teachers to attend.

Smart phones. Web browsers. Social media. Instagram. Keeping children safe has become increasingly difficult in today’s hyper-wired world. While each of these digital tools has earned its place in society, each one poses a particular challenge for young people, especially teens and tweens who spend more time online than their younger peers.

While classroom education continues to focus on academics, there is too-little emphasis on healthy emotional development in an era where we need it more than ever before. In fact, the State of the Heart 2016 study found that emotional intelligence continues to decline globally. What’s more, since 2014, there has been a decline in maintaining emotional balance (-3.3 percent), self-motivation (-2.9 percent), and connecting compassionately with others (-2.4 percent). The numbers don’t lie, it’s clear that if we want to live in a more compassionate world, then society needs to place a higher emphasis on emotional development.

As an occupational therapist I have worked with many young people with dyspraxia, as well as their parents and teachers, over the course of my career. Here I draw on my experience to identify the tools and strategies that I believe are most effective in unlocking the potential of Primary school students with developmental coordination difficulties.

A kind act is one of the most valuable human transactions that doesn’t cost anything. It cultivates an environment of care, nurture and warmth. The optimum environment for any learner.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” - William Shakespeare

At some point in our lives most of us, for one reason or another, will suffer from anxiety, which affects our ability to function as we usually would. For some young people, anxiety-based problems can be long term, debilitating and leaving them in need of outside intervention. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (2012) estimates that as many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents are suffering from depression at any one time. Young people often find it helpful to talk through problems with a friend or family member, but sometimes talking to a trained professional may be a more appropriate course of action.

In 2000-2001 I was carrying out action research for my PhD, investigating why some pupils got excluded and others didn’t and what schools could do about it. I introduced meditation and sharing circles to Year 7 drama at a time when it seemed new and radical, and it had a positive impact on the pupils I was working with. I combined meditation with a ‘check in’ or listening circle which allowed pupils to:

World Values Day (20th October 2016) epitomises how people everywhere, including teachers, are passionate about doing something to make the world a better place. The conscious use of inspiring values is the transformative agent. As Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Educationalists, who want to help children and young people live their lives to the fullest, are prioritising their pupils’ social, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing because they understand that learners’ welfare underpins their personal development and academic and other achievements.

My previous articles on advice for writing personal statements have touched on the importance of students developing their social skills, as well as proving their ability to be responsible by working on community or charity related projects.

Workload, Ofsted, new initiatives, new specifications, changes to external tests, child poverty, mental health issues - it’s enough to make even the hardiest of teachers question whether or not teaching is a career with any longevity. It’s no surprise that there’s a recruitment crisis and even less of a surprise that there’s a retainment crisis. I’ve been teaching for thirteen years and I have no intention of stopping, though I admit the thought has crossed my mind, and I’ve even gone so far as to search for a job outside of education. There’s a lot that keeps me in the classroom, and there’s a lot that I do outside of it that keeps me teaching.

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