Student maturity has always been an interest of teachers, but usually refers to a studious, conscientious work ethic. However, after COVID-19 lockdowns, educators are more aware than ever how a student’s character and academic drive are distinctly separate concerns. Indeed, more are convinced it’s no longer a secondary, incidental focus but a primary facet of their job, and as much a part of a student’s education as their final grades.
Or is it even more important than that? Student wellbeing has deepened from nurturing well-rounded young people prepared ultimately to thrive as adults. Social and emotional learning is consistently one of the top strategic priorities.
So, what does this mean in practice for teachers’ day-to-day role, and how can you support your students?
Working on wellbeing
Whether or not your school has a dedicated pastoral support team, student wellbeing is central to a teacher’s job as you have the most direct, regular contact. You should therefore look to foster personal relationships with them, both to build trust and to understand how to tailor their lesson delivery and classroom experience to each individual.
“[A truly exceptional school is achieved by] putting the needs of the children first, being creative and innovative, keeping up-to-date with new teaching ideas, modelling to children via strong staff relationships”
— Teacher/Assistant/Deputy Head, Academy Primary, South East
We’ve recently seen just how differently students cope and learn — and the importance of a teacher as a mentor figure. By continuously developing this understanding, you’ll better know how to support students in any times of disruption or uncertainty, helping them become more resilient over time. But prioritising wellbeing isn’t only necessary for challenging times; it yields greater rewards in the classroom, with positive learning outcomes from students feeling more inspired and motivated.
Collaboration in the classroom
With teaching moving away from a reliance on lecture-style delivery, and wellbeing strategies coming to the fore, it’s time to explore different types of teaching and learning. Collaboration in the classroom is one of the most effective ways of fortifying pupil confidence, and collaborative learning also grows pupils’ social, interpersonal and communication skills. Most educators believe tech enables students to better learn these kinds of soft skills.
Interacting with each other can help replace feelings of loneliness with a sense of connection as students bond with you and their peers. It also empowers a sense of autonomy and ownership over their learning, viewing education less as imposed information to digest and more as a space where they can explore, find their strengths and work with others. As education advances from imparting knowledge by a single teacher, to being steered by pupils’ social-emotional needs, their independence increases.