By Kate Sitzmann
Bachelors of Science in Elementary and Special Education, College of Education
In today’s classrooms, we see a complete spectrum of students ranging in interests and abilities. As educators, we must be prepared for students who already know what we are teaching, are right on target or are still grasping at earlier concepts. In addition, we have students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and 504 plans that need more scaffolding instruction and support. I found that juggling schedules with curriculum and intervention groups was quite the circus act. Teaching is such a performance. You must captivate your audience, relate material and then leave your students wanting more to encourage their own discoveries. A big piece I feel that needs to be addressed more is supporting our students’ emotional health. Our emotions are more powerful and influential than we may realize. They have an impact on our actions, reactions and thoughts. We were blessed to have our school counselor come into our classrooms every month and teach a lesson on something the students could relate to. It helped to guide them in identifying their emotions and to understanding them.
With students spending up to six and a half hours with us daily, it is only natural that we are attentive to their emotional health. By supporting them in this way, we will give them a strong foundation for understanding themselves, their actions, their thoughts and their feelings. Here are quick four things you can do in the classroom to help support the emotional health of your students:
Get to know your students. Share about yourself and be an active listener about who they are. Be in tuned with their needs and support those daily. Once you have a strong relationship, students are more likely to seek help and be honest about their struggles.
Engage Students Who Are Struggling
These students may not know how to reach out for help. Allow them to speak freely and openly with you about what it is they are struggling with. It may not be what you assume, so let them take the conversational lead.
Validate Those Feelings
Students should feel that after they have shared their hardships that they are supported. Be sensitive to how they have put their feelings into words. This is a HUGE step!
Teach Them That All Feelings Are Acceptable
Many times students are taught that negative feelings are taboo. Reality shows us that all feelings are valid and real. We feel the good and bad, the happy and sad, the excited and fearful. Instead of trying to fix the negative feeling, support it and explore it. Always allow open conversation.
As their teacher you have built a rapport with that student. Certainly, if there is a life threatening or a safety concern, you should reach out to the appropriate school and police authorities. There are also many community resources that can provide support to educators and parents to support the emotional health of all of our students.
To learn more about Grand Canyon University’s College of Education and how it can help you impact the lives of students, visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.
Learn more about Kate:
I am recently a GCU graduate, Class of 2018. I earned a Bachelors of Science in Elementary and Special Education. I received the Exemplary Teacher Candidate Award for Fall 2018. I live in Southern California with my husband and two daughters. I am passionate about teaching all students and advocating for them so they may reach their highest potential. There is nothing a child can’t accomplish when we believe.