Mental Health is unseen and as a result often ignored or not dealt with in the best way. This week Buzzfeed has been making its readers aware of mental health. Many of the posts have been comical but truthful. They are about the challenges that individuals who’s brains process in this way struggle with things others may take for granted. The video seen above might seem a little silly but it is powerful. Have you ever heard the term “spoonie”? If you have it’s probably because you know someone who defines them self as one or you are one. If not here is an article about what being a “spoonie” means.
Mental health is something that is easy to talk about abstractly. However, it is not as easy to talk about in common terms. I wanted to bring this topic to light because for me a students mental and emotional health (or unseen illnesses) are just as valid and important as the ones that can be seen. It is never easy to know what to say to someone struggling with mental health. Sometimes there is no right thing to say other than: I’m here for you, I’m not going to judge you, Do you want to talk?
Many students or parents will be struggling with these unseen illnesses. Here and here are links to the Buzzfeed mental health week opening post and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
Remember just like something that can be seen physically a student struggling with something going on that’s unseen needs help too. Here are some ways you can get started in helping.
I was recently working with a teacher who introduced me to something called file folder games. They were used in a station activity and I really liked them. They are easy to create and many are pre created online for you to print and put together. All you need is a folder and some place to laminate the materials. In searching the web, I discovered many of the games are targeted for younger learners (pre k /k) but after seeing so many examples I could easily create my own.
In this post I wanted to include some links to the file folder sites and center ideas. Would you use some of these ideas in your room? What games or stations do you use in class?
Share and Grow,
-This site had some good ideas. However, the games labeled grade 2 seemed a bit young so use a teacher eye!
-I liked that this page gave me some ideas for science and social studies folders. I probably would not use the games for these subjects from this site. However it gave me some good ideas about how to make games similar for my room.
-This blog is wonderful! Shout out to ILovetoTeach! The teacher behind this blog shares many of her stations and prompting ideas. They are beautifully created and online for you to borrow.
Parent teacher conference nights can be a challenge to set up but they are very rewarding if everything goes smoothly! They don’t have to occur just once a semester either. If something is going great, or well… not so great you can call or set up a meeting during the year too. Here are some articles and forms to help you have the best parent-teacher meetings you can!
Share and Grow,
–This teacher gives some great tips and easy to use forms for parent teacher reminders. There is also a nice one to use the night of the meeting.
-What should my room look like? How soon do I notify parents? What if I think I will need extra time for one conference? This teacher made an easy to read post with some forms for lower/upper elementary.
Every grade has it’s own challenges and rewards when teaching. Regardless of the age of the students you teach friend drama always seems to occur at some point or another. How do you handle the best friend break up or the partner pair that just throws the whole class off?
Friend drama or students who plain dislike each other can leave you as the mediator and tangled in some sticky situations. Who will work with who today? Are they going to be speaking tomorrow? Oh no tears!
Here you will find some useful tips I have learned from working as a camp counselor and in an after school program setting. I hope you find them helpful!
Learn and Grow!
- It’s ok not be be friends with everyone. / You don’t have to like everyone you just have to try and get along.– You don’t have to be friends with everyone. They can just be your classmate and someone you are nice to in school, on the playground, if you see them at the store… You don’t have to invite them to the movies or over to play if you don’t want to. However, in this room we are kind everyone.
- If you want to be a friend ,be nice, be a good friend.– What does it look like to be a good friend? Do you stick up for them if someone says something mean or ask them whats wrong if they look sad? What would you want in a good friend? Don’t say or do something mean to them because you would not like it if you were in their shoes.
- ALWAYS REMEMBER! Friends can not be forced!- Friendship happens over time. Sometimes you and someone will play a lot on the playground or sit near each other on the bus, but it might not mean you are friends. What do you know about them? Do you do nice things for them and play together or hang out together outside of school? Friendship takes time and work.
Social stories are a great teaching tool for students on the autism spectrum. They use pictures and words to help students learn about a behavior, event, skill, or concept they may be struggling with. Since they first were popularized, many have found them to be useful teaching tools for behavioral issues in general. Pictures from the students home or classroom can be used to make the story come to life if it is ‘homemade’ though. So that’s kind of fun!
There are many resources online for creating your own social stories or many are pre- written too. If you are looking to create your own social story for a student this is a good guide. We created social stories in partners one night in a class. It was the first time we tried it all the way through. We chose to make them in powerpoint , a very doable option. The time from start to end took most of us 20-30 minutes. It may take your more or less depending on the story though. This is not a novel don’t worry it can easily be accomplished by parents or teachers on a lunch.
Here are some resources to help !
-This site has comic strip type images free to use.
-Feeling tech savvy? This App costs a few dollars but if you work with students who use social stories on a regular basis this may be a good tool for you!
-Looking for something a little more interactive? This teacher got creative! She created a social story spin with a social story sort. See it here!
-Sometimes I like a reference book to pull from my shelf. If this is a high use item in your classroom this might be a good investment for you. Borrow ideas and edit them to make your own until you know exactly what to do!
–PBISworld offers a whole host of commonly used social stories. Check it out.
What other resources do you know of for helping students in this area?
Share and grow,
Every room needs a reward system. They don’t need to be expensive though! I’m a fan of intrinsic motivation or fun whole class rewards. I’ve never been a big fan of prize boxes or candy. Too often I see these result in arrangements, tears, and the give-me gimmies. However, if that’s what your students need to succeed then I understand too. In this post I wanted to provide some ideas for classroom reward systems that I like. These systems and ideas don’t involve a lot of money or candy.
Enjoy and Grow!
-This teacher had a fun idea. She put magnets on the back of a large puzzle and the students earned pieces. When it was completed they earned a class prize that was set together.
-This idea was cute! I like catching students helping others and being nice. Plus what kiddo doesn’t love googly eyes?
-I saw a teacher use check registers through out the year with 5th grade students as the reward system. Students had to carefully keep track of the “money” given to them for a perfect attendance day, homework, 100% on a test, being a good buddy, etc. Then at the end of the year there was an auction with class cash. Some items were special like from school events such as a poetry night poster or mask from a play. Others were small dollar store toys.
-Need some ideas for classroom rewards? PJ day, crazy socks, wear hats in class, bring a stuffed animal to school, homework pass, extra 5 minutes of recess, game day for math, movie in the afternoon (perhaps Magic School Bus or Bill Nye) . There are a lot of in class prizes students can work towards!
If you don’t know what a classroom call back is you will soon! They are wonderful tools to quiet own a noisy classroom or group of students. I use callbacks everyday at my after school program to get 45 excited kids to listen. If you have ever heard of African call and response songs? This is sort of what you are doing with the students in your room when you grab their attention with a class call back.
Here are some ideas for fun class callbacks to use in your room. What is your favorite call back?
-Check out this article of 50 call-and response ideas.
–Buzzfeed asked teachers what their favorites were. Check them out.
-We use a clap pattern at work. The kids know the end of it to fill in so we don’t have to talk and they can see/hear when it is time to clean up and listen.
What do you do in your room?
Share and Grow,