The majority of a student’s time is spent in school, which is crucial to a student’s development – and their teachers play a key role in this. Certain aspects are especially important when considering student well-being, with managing negative emotions and increasing resilience being at the forefront. In fact, research shows that teacher support, negative emotions, and resilience are all significantly linked with mental well-being.
So, how can teachers support students in a way that will improve their well-being?
When students learn to express their emotions properly, they begin to make strides in their social and emotional development. Research has found that students who suppressed their emotions suffered negative changes to their well-being, and subsequently a decline in their social and academic performance. Out of the six basic emotions, 4 can be considered negative: anger, disgust, fear, and sadness. We know that these can play a huge role in our lives, so it is important to understand how to manage them so that students’ well-being stays positive.
One of the first steps to managing emotions is to label them. Teachers can implement many different strategies in their classrooms to encourage students to become more comfortable with recognising and labelling their emotions. A great activity to help get you started is one that teaches empathy: when a conflict arises, ask students how they would feel if they were in the other persons position. Identifying and understanding other people’s emotions, as well as their own, can help students label their feelings more successfully. This will enhance their understanding of emotions in general and help develop their empathy, encouraging a positive and open atmosphere and in your classroom.
The easiest way to describe resilience is not giving up easily, being able to get back on your feet, and staying motivated despite any setbacks. It is important to help students become resilient as it can lead to them working better under pressure, and viewing failure as a learning opportunity rather than a threat.
Resilience is directly related to well-being as it provides you with the confidence and optimism you need to persevere. Whilst students go through the inevitable changes during their adolescence, they need to develop resilience. It will help them navigate the challenges they want to take on and keep them motivated to continue, despite any difficulties.
To improve resilience, you can encourage students to do some of the following:
- Fail better – When you face a setback, take some time to reflect on what you have learnt. Use this self-reflection to improve in the future.
- Be flexible – In challenging situations, being able to adapt quickly is very important. Responding well to surprise will allow you to keep a strong footing on your goals.
- The right people – The people you surround yourself with have a huge impact on your development. If they make you feel good and push you to keep going, keep them around!
Supporting Your Students
Evidence suggests that teacher support enhances mental well-being by decreasing negative emotions and increasing resilience. By implementing strategies to decrease negative emotions and increase resilience, students are likely to improve their well-being. Simply introducing strategies they can use to manage their emotions will make them feel supported: as you’re showing concern for their personal development. Whilst we should still place a strong focus on a student’s academic success, it is likely that they will perform better when they feel better.
A great way to support your students is encouraging them to develop a growth mindset. This will help them find a sense of purpose and enhance their sense of belonging. They will have both short-term and long-term goals that they can work towards and every achievement will feel like a massive success. This will continue to motivate them and push them to be resilient in even the most difficult of times, with research suggesting that a growth mindset intervention is especially useful for struggling students.
Support your students by teaching them skills that will further their social and emotional development. Becoming resilient and learning how to appropriately manage all of their emotions, but especially the negative ones, will contribute positively to their well-being. Making sure your students feel well supported is crucial and working alongside them will help them develop their well-being and their academic success.