article talks about the role of teachers in teaching middle-schoolers become more
self-aware to create a thriving and positive school environment
Self-awareness is a complex subject. Even
adults have a tough time grappling with it. However, the good news is that self-awareness, like any science, can be
taught. With the right tools, pedagogy, and intent, schools can teach kids to
hone their self-awareness skills. With the proper
knowledge, young students can go on to
become productive members of their communities. Here are the top 5 ways in
which teachers nurture self-aware middle-schoolers.
Encourage Kids to Journal
Keeping a journal is an excellent way for students to connect with
themselves. A simple act of putting their thoughts and their daily activities
in writing brings new perspectives into their thinking. Students will reminisce
what they did and how it affected them and others around them. A journal helps
them relive the day and identify the moments they missed or overlooked. Such a
daily activity builds patience and helps them get better every day.
Identifying Strengths & Weaknesses
Every child is different. They come from
unique backgrounds, live vibrant and diverse
lives, and have access to distinct sets of resources. Teachers should
appreciate the diversity and help students appreciate
them too. When they understand their strengths and find a safe space to talk
about their weaknesses, they are more likely to work on them. Discussing
weaknesses should not be taboo, and
teachers should make an effort to make a classroom environment that allows just
Make Academics Relatable
When a subject is taught in class, teachers should try to connect it to the
experiences and personal memories of students. For instance, if the class is about the French Revolution, teachers
should ask questions like – “When was the last time you felt you needed to
raise your voice against something?” This
helps students reminisce, search through their memory bank and find relevant
memories. Discussing these in the class will help them understand the subject
and themselves better. It will also give them perspective. When multiple students
share their experiences, they will realize
that they are not going through certain emotions alone, and such an experience can be extraordinarily
Focus on Self-Awareness
Apart from teaching self-awareness as a
side subject, teachers can also encourage schools to add self-awareness to
their formal curriculum. With structured programs like SEL Adventures around,
teachers can easily find all the classroom instructions, subject content, and
activity suggestions in one place. It makes it easy for students to grasp the
significance of self-awareness, learn quickly, and apply that knowledge via
expertly designed activities.
Teaching Self-Awareness Made Easy
Self-awareness plays a crucial role in the development of a child and has a critical bearing on their future. Teaching self-awareness to students from a young age also improves the school climate and results in a highly productive learning environment. Schools have a huge incentive to provide their teachers with the right tools to teach their students to be self-aware.
Teacher-student relationships are the backbone of the
classroom. An effective teacher understands the learning curve of every student
in the class, provides a thriving environment for learning, inspires them to
set high goals, and motivates them to achieve them. Positive teacher-student
relationships ensure that teachers and students communicate effectively,
understand each other, and maximize learning. These relationships also foster a
sense of belonging and improve the performance of students in both academic and
There are many benefits of a positive relationship between
teachers and students, and here is how they can be rekindled in a classroom.
Teachers occupy a position of authority. Naturally, students
look up to them to provide structure to the class. Teachers must communicate
the class etiquette and their expectations from the students effectively and
enforce them. A structure in the classroom improves class productivity and
reduces the time wasted on non-essential ones. This helps the teachers to lead
from the front and take control of the class dynamics. Teachers who fail to
provide a structure may lose their students’ respect, which makes it
challenging to build a positive relationship.
Make Learning Fun
A teacher who can make learning fun tends to become a
favorite among students. Creative pedagogy attracts the attention of students
and makes learning accessible. Programs like SEL Adventures helps students to
learn via interactive video lessons. They also include outdoor activities and
taking ownership of the situation. All in all, teachers who can make learning
fun are more effective.
Treating Students with Respect
A positive relationship cannot be complete without respect.
Teachers must understand and discipline their students. At the same time, they
must show respect to them in the classroom. Teachers should not resort to
sarcasm, embarrassment, or insults to manage the students. They should not
display favoritism or be biased towards certain students. Respect cannot be
commanded; it is always earned.
Creating a Safe Environment
A safe environment for the student is essential for them to
blossom. The responsibility to provide such an environment in class falls upon
the teacher. They should pay attention to the students who are facing
difficulty in learning, provide different resources to help diverse learners,
and create an environment where doubts and questions are welcome. Teachers
should encourage students to form distinct groups for various class activities
so that everyone can feel included and provide special support to students who
Displaying Genuine Interest
Teachers should make themselves accessible to students. If they observe dropping grades, bad behavior, or other conspicuous patterns in a student, then they should either reach out directly to the student or to the parents. They should take a genuine interest in trying to resolve the student’s problems. Those problems can be academic, emotional, or something else. This will help teachers create a strong positive bond with the student.
School climate has a profound impact on the lives of both students and teachers. It is positively correlatedto the academic performance, emotional state, and even the school attendance of students. A healthy school climate promotes job satisfaction and well-being among teachers too. Such a nurturing school climate is built on the strong foundation of positive relationships at the school. These can be the relationships between a student and teacher or between one student and another. Here is how healthy relationships at school impact the school climate.
Support from teachers can help students develop an interest in a subjectand master it. A teacher’s support can give the students a strong sense of purpose. The students are inspired from within to learn better to achieve mastery in the subject and not just to get a good grade. They will seek more resources to learn, get more exposure from a young age, and together create a thriving school environment.
Teachers can also provide a challenging, risky, and rewarding environment for the students to learn. When they feel challenged academically, they will pursue it with renewed interest. However, when they falter or fail, the teachers also provide a safe space and emotional support. In a positive teacher-student relationship, students are not afraid of failing but learn from those failures. In such an environment, students will discuss their problems openly, not hide away from studying, learn to doubt and ask questions, and enjoy going to school.
The academic press is an integral part of a positive teacher-student relationship. They set high expectations for students, who achieve them with support from their teachers. This results in high-achieving students who do well in life.
Positive student-student relationships have a direct impact on the self-esteem of a child. Peers have a powerful influence on the child’s concept of self and their behaviors. Good relationships with other students also help them share their problems and learn to process them in a healthy manner.
Positive peer relationships allow students to get more opportunities to develop their social skills and learn to develop balanced relationships early in life. They gain confidence, learn communication, understand empathy, and more.
Strong bonds with fellow students also help students to explore their likes and dislikes. This promotes a liking for the school, and thereby improve classroom attendance. Good relationships eliminate the need to internalize problems and fall into the pit of substance abuse, drinking, and other vices.
Positive Relationships Are Crucial
Positive relationships with teachers and students can completely change how students perceive school. They create an environment of learning, friendship, comfort, and joy. They make school a place where the student wants to go every day. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is integral to forging positive relationships at school. Programs like SEL Adventures make SEL easy to understand and apply in the real world. All the stakeholders in the school system should make a concerted effort to integrate programs like SEL Adventures in their curriculum to create a positive school environment that students look forward to.
Part II: The article follows up the discussion on the anger among American students and tries to understand the role of teachers to help students channel their emotions and in the process, control them better.
School classrooms are as much an environment for academic learning as it is for emotional learning. Till now, schools have focused heavily on the “academic” side of things. However, as research has revealed that academic and emotional learning are intertwined and critical for the development of a child. Students who are socially developed and emotionally intelligent have been observed to achieve higher academic success, register lower levels of stress, avoid negative behaviors like violence, anger, bullying, and more. Teachers are the key for the students to understand and appreciate the importance of social and emotional learning. They can help students to channel their emotions effectively. Here’s how.
Accessible Channel of Communication
Teachers are authority figures in the life of a student. However, the authority should not become synonymous with fear. Teachers should keep a line of communication open for the students so that they can discuss their problems openly. This also helps teachers to stay in touch with the ground reality of their classroom and take measures to address the issues their students are facing. This can mean changing the seating arrangements, changing group compositions, talking to parents or counselors, changing teaching pedagogy, and so on. When students know they are being heard, their levels of anxiety and angst go down.
Using the Contagious Nature of Compassion
Teachers should demonstrate compassion in the classroom to encourage their students to practice it. Compassion is a powerful tool. Social and emotional learning breeds compassion. It helps students to recognize their emotions, and also of those around them. As students build the power to be compassionate, they can understand others better and also able to express themselves more effectively. This builds emotional maturity and helps children evolve.
Encouraging Social & Emotional Learning
Social and emotional learning usually takes a backseat in an academically charged environment. However, experienced teachers understand that social-emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of a child’s emotional and academic development. So, teachers should keep the SEL sessions at par with the academic lectures. They can use structured and expert programs like SEL Adventures as a mode of instruction. These include classroom sessions, outdoor activities, and feedback report. When the teacher places importance on the study and practice of SEL, students will be primed to study SEL too. It will, in turn, help them to channel their emotions in a healthy manner.
The Responsibility Lies with Everyone
Of course, there are a lot of external factors at play here. It is not fair to expect teachers to manage all the aspects of a student’s life alone. It is a joint responsibility of the teachers, parents, and the school administration. They have to create a healthy school environment by using useful tools like SEL Adventures for the benefit of the students.