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.
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.
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!
Exit Slips are great way for you to get feedback from your students about how a lesson or the whole day went. They take less than 5 minutes and can be anonymous if you choose. These are informal assessments and can be a nice way to see what students are still confused or what they really got. Included here are some exit slip examples and ideas. What’s your favorite out the door assessment?
Learn and Grow,
– Check out this article and learn about ideas for online exit slips!
-Want some ideas for exit slip questions? This article has 53.
What’s up-cycling you may ask? It’s taking things that could be old or recycled and turning them into everyday useful things! Decorating and keeping a classroom stocked can be expensive, especially in the primary grades. So I wanted to take the time and post about how to up-cycle and DIY some things for your room.
Before I get into useful tips on how to reuse the things in your room, I wanted to tell you about a great hidden gem of a website. I’ll post the link as always. If you type it in BE CAREFUL not to reverse the wording. This is a page I learned about from an art professor and the products are amazing! You can buy all your glue, paper, markers, and craft sticks in bulk cheap. If you have a limited budget and need to buy these items out of pocket go here!
This blog, the Clutter-Free Classroom, has great ideas on how to reuse and decorate containers for classroom storage.
Students or you have a messy desk? Those desk and paper organizers can add up your first year. Who doesn’t have cereal boxes though?
What other ways can you re- purpose items in your classroom?
Share and Grow!