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Healthy Classrooms

What role does our mind play in achieving and maintaining good health?
by

Sarah Hollow

on 17 September 2012

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Transcript of Healthy Classrooms

How does positive thinking and reinforcement benefit students and teachers in the classroom?

What role does our mind play in achieving and
maintaining good health in the classroom? Healthy Classroom A positive learning environment is important to a healthy mind
Positive thinking promotes a healthy attitude, reduces stress levels, improves overall wellbeing, better coping skills and more.
A positive learning environment boosts self-esteem and improves students behavior
Positive reinforcement recognises good behavior and strengths in the classroom rather than negative What role does our mind play in achieving and
maintaining good health in the classroom? Often, teachers are so focused on ensuring that students pass achievement tests that they have little or no time to address students' social and emotional needs.

Outside school, some students endure tough situations and struggle to cope with stress. Students mental well-being and happiness affects the way they learn, and if they are dealing with personal issues outside school, they may not have an understanding of how to cope with what's happening around them.

Teachers encourage morals such as compassion and empathy for students to follow, but not all teachers role model these actions and behaviors too. Teachers are more than educators, they are councilors and supportive role-models too. How does students mental well-being affect their learning? Student’s social and emotional skills are critical to improving their academic performance and their success in life. To achieve this we need to have happy and engaging classroom environments.
Students that relate well to others, that are motivated, that achieve academically, that create positive relationships with teachers, family and friends/classmates are happy in themselves. These students who are happy in themselves and have developed social and emotional skills are more likely to show higher levels of flexibility, learning capacity, social skills and values. Can a happy engaging learning environment improve student’s behaviour in the classroom? The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has recognized five core social and emotional capability areas that assist with improving students behavior:

Self-awareness- identifying and recognizing emotions, recognizing personal interests and strengths, maintain a well-grounded sense of self confidence.

Self-management- regulating emotions to handle stress, control impulses, and motivating oneself to persevere in overcoming obstacles, setting and monitoring progress toward the achievement of personal and academic goals, expressing emotions appropriately.

Social awareness- is to be able to take the perspective of and empathize with others. Recognizing and appreciating individual and group similarities and differences.

Relationship skills- establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation and resistance to inappropriate social pressure. Preventing, managing, and
constructively resolving interpersonal conflict and seeking help when needed.

Responsible decision making – making decisions based on a consideration of all relevant factors, including applicable ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms; the likely consequences of
taking alternative courses of action; evaluation and reflection.

Teachers need to teach and exemplify these core skills within their classroom, helping students understand the value of these skills and giving them opportunities to show for themselves these five
core skills. What research demonstrates improvement of children's behavior in a positive environment? What research demonstrates that a positive learning environment works? A recent meta-analysis of 207 studies of social and emotional learning programs conducted bay CASEL (Durlak et al, 2008) found that students who participated in social and emotional learning programs:

Improved significantly in their social and emotional skills and their attitudes to themselves, others and school
Displayed more classroom pro-social behavior and fewer disruptive and aggressive behaviors
Experienced lower levels of depression
Scored higher on standardized achievement tests relative to peers not receiving the program.

Other studies have indicated that children with challenging behaviors have responded positively to social and emotional learning programs. These programs not only benefit children with challenging behaviours but have been effective in improving the learning environment for all students and promoting the inclusion of those with behavioral challenges. What activities can teachers use
to promote good behavior? A fantastic idea for teachers is to create classroom rules and etiquette with the help of students. This will give them ownership of the rules and feel more inclined to follow them.

Punch out Card: Each child receives a pad of paper. Whenever they are performing well helping out, etc.., give them a punch with a one hole, hole puncher. When students reach a certain number of punches, they can pick from a box of prizes.

Class Points: Display a tally system of points on the blackboard. Every time students are performing well, give them a point. When the class earns a certain number of points by the end of the week, they get to do a class fun activity at the end of the week.

Good Behavior Chart: As a class, come up with a list of good behaviors. At the end of the day, go through each one and ask the class how each was demonstrated in the classroom during the day. Then, as a class thank the student who accomplished it.

Positive Box: Students are free to write positive comments on a piece of paper about something they've observed in the classroom. It might be an act of kindness or words of encouragement to peers. At the end of the week, teachers can read them out and share the positive comments from students. This will encourage all students to continue to be respectful and kind to each other. The Positive Action Program
recommends: We need to teach students positive behaviors in a thorough, consistent, systematic way; we cannot assume that students just know them. The Positive Action program encourages positives actions for the following reasons:

The importance of doing positive actions to feel good about yourself.
Positive actions for a healthy body (such as nutrition, exercise, and sleep).
Positive actions for the intellect (such as thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills).
Positive actions for self-management (such as managing time, energy, emotions, and other personal resources).
Positive actions for getting along with others (such as treating others fairly, kindly, and respectfully).
Positive actions for being honest with yourself and others (such as taking responsibility, admitting mistakes, and not blaming others).
Positive actions for improving yourself continually (such as setting and achieving goals). http://www.positiveaction.net/ READY? SET... Create your own Y Chart What would you like your positive, healthy, classroom to "look like", "feel like" and "sound like"?
Work in teams, at your tables, and think of ideas together how you would describe your future classroom.

Creating Y Charts are a fantastic idea for teachers and students to create together to establish agreed values in the classroom. Positive Reflection GO! What strategies could you use in the classroom to help support and maintain students self-worth?
How could you encourage students to practice positive self-talk?
How could you discuss the importance of treating each other with respect?
What resources and programs(school and community) are available for students to maintain good mental health?
How would you give students access to these resources? Resources How does mental health link to VELS? http://vels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/hpe/approaches.html#lev3-physical
What policies and youth services are available for student wellbeing? http://www.education.vic.gov.au/healthwellbeing/wellbeing/default.htm
What are some mental health initiatives that the Government are funding?
http://www.mindmatters.edu.au/default.asp
What are some mental health not-for-profit organizations that all students and teachers can participate in? http://www.ruokday.com/ (September 13th). Risk factors that can impact a child’s mental health and wellbeing are:

Hereditary mental health difficulties, a lack of positive supportive relationships, limited social interaction, an unstable home environment, a limited support network of family and friends, exposure to stressful life events, poor physical health, having a difficult temperament and being exposed to bullying.

While protective factors that can positively impact a child’s mental health and wellbeing are:

Having warm/supportive relationships, living in a stable home environment, maintaining good physical health, having good social and emotional skills, having well developed cognitive skills and having positive social support networks. How does mental well-being affect children?
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