We recently wrote a post about what children need emotionally and how schools can help. There are some creative and more subtle ways schools can connect with their kids on these topics. Here is a quick overview of how you, as a teacher or principal, can address your students emotional well being, feelings and support them.
Supporting Students Emotional Well Being
First, select a topic. As an educator or administrator, you are in the best position to know the needs of your students and/or school community. Are people struggling with health concerns right now? Are people worried about finances? Are people feeling lonely? These are all common feelings, but they will likely differ in your community depending on whether the school is in session. Outside of the pandemic, there may also be other feelings around belonging or kindness that you want to emphasize at your school. Once you have selected two or three areas/feelings you want to address, you can create your plan.
Second, create a plan. Find a third-party resource that addresses those feelings. It is critical to choose someone who doesn’t push the students to discuss these items outright but takes an approach of relating to the children. We discussed how effective this type of approach can be and what types of feelings you may want to address in this episode of the Multipurpose Room. Several different acts may fit the bill. For example, you could engage a storyteller to share their life story. You can select an author to share a chapter from a book whose characters are experiencing the same challenges are your students. You may get students’ energy up by doing something different, like a musical performance. Whatever you do, getting creative can undoubtedly pay off.
A third is a fund that plans. You may wonder where you can get funding for a third party. Common sources include partnering with your PTA or PTO, a local business, or using a state grant. In New York, for example, there is arts education funding where you pay the fee to the third party up front, but you get 80% back at the end of the school year. So that's back in your pocket to afford a program for the following year. Other states have arts education funding as well that could apply to any program you are putting on that has an artistic element. This is just one of many ways to support students well being.
Finally, execute that plan! Once the plan is funded, choosing a date and unleashing your great ideas are all left. Your students will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and having a different assembly type will brighten their day. We would love to hear what kinds of creative assemblies have paid off for your school, so don’t hesitate to reach out with your ideas.