Promoting Mental Wellness in the Classroom

10 Tips for Teachers: Promoting Mental Wellness in the Classroom

by: Dr. Samantha Myhre 

Understanding the emotional and behavioral needs of each student can feel overwhelming. Check out these tips to help promote mental wellness in your classroom!

  1. Create an open, team-based environment in your classroom.
    • Encourage inclusivity and recognize diversity. Doing so can help students increase their social connectedness, empathy toward others, and willingness to open up.
  2. Create an opportunity for mental breaks.
    • Examples: group stretches, dance break, reading break, coloring break, yoga poses, brief mindfulness activity, prompted journaling for 5 minutes, breathing exercises, gratitude check-ins.
  3. Use SMART goals to promote success and increase motivation.
    • S: Specific
    • M: Measurable
    • A: Attainable
    • R: Relevant
    • T: Timely
  4. Create relationships with mental health providers in the school system.
    • Invite them into the classroom for demonstrations! Fostering relationships with mental health providers can not only expand the network of resources available to your students but can also help you learn when and how to refer a student for help.
  5. Praise healthy coping and effort.
    • Labeled praise is often learned as a parenting technique, however, the general concept can apply to anyone. When an individual is provided with labeled praise (i.e., “I love the way you took ownership of your actions in that moment.”) immediately following a certain behavior, that behavior is likely to increase (think operant conditioning!).
  6. Incorporate visual aids.
    • Display posters or wall art that include encouraging messages. Better yet, have your students work together to create such items!
  7. Encourage embracing who they are as individuals and getting out of the comfort zone!
    • Our quirks make us who we are. Helping students recognize and own that can unlock so much freedom!
    • Show that it is okay to take risks and tolerate uncertainty. These are two surefire ways to tackle anxiety and tap into potential.
  8. Teach time-management skills within your curriculum.
    • Students can feel overwhelmed when managing school work, extra-curricular activities, and maybe even a job or responsibilities at home. Helping them plan for success can decrease those feelings and increase feelings of accomplishment and motivation to move forward. Encourage the use of daily planners, checklists, or phone reminders.
  9. Provide some choice in assignments and tasks.
    • This can help increase autonomy and independence as well as allow students to demonstrate their full potential (i.e., if they are better able to excel on one type of assignment or task vs another).
  10. Model and promote healthy self-care.
    • Even if we think the children and teens in our lives aren’t paying attention to us, they probably are. Beginning in childhood, the adults who are present in a child’s life are models of behavior. It can be helpful to use the concept of “filling your bucket”. For example, if you are not filling your bucket, it is going to be really hard for you to function effectively as a teacher. We have to take care of ourselves in order to tend to others.
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