Sunday, April 9, 2017

#iatefl2017 Teaching well-being to teenagers by Rachael Harris


 A Wonderful session by Rachael Harris, focusing on activities that enhance our students' and our own well-being.
Ms. Harris started with the definition of the term:

As she sees it "We know it when we see it"
So why should we teach it ?
Sometimes we forget that teenagers have to face social pressure, stress for academic success and so many challenges, which are pretty scary situations. By teaching them how to be well, we improve the class atmosphere, and students sometimes don't even realise it that we have actually achieve that, they just enjoy class.
Ms Harris points out three aspects:
  • How students feel themselves.
  • How they are in class.
  • How they react to their learning.
The questions that students should ask themselves are:
  • Am I learning?
  • What am I learning?
  • How am I learning?
  • Am I actually enjoying the learning? 
What I honestly LOVED in this session were the proposed activities. These kind of workshops are the reason why I want to attend conventions and seminars in the first place. 
So here we go:

#1 Status report
This goes back to the times when facebook had the prompt : (Name) is... (For example Rachael is happy / busy / angry etc.)
This activity can practise adjectives and feelings vocabulary. Have students write their status and then talk about it; why am I feeling like that? Do I want to change it? What can I do about it?

#2 Bestbits
The idea is to express Gratitude and the means is Instagram:
Students think of their best moments (bestbits) of the day and post 3 of them with the hashtag #bestbits - or if they don't want to post them, they just email their pictures to their teacher.

#3 BHAGs and Babysteps
This is actually a business term : Big Hairy Audacious Goals and it can be a whole hour or even a whole year project.
Students (and why not yourself) think about one BIG goal that is pretty difficult or even impossible to achieve and write this in the middle of a white piece of paper. Next to it, write 4 smaller goals that could lead to this big goal. And then analyze each to even smaller pieces. So you get something like that:

 So when you have completed it, you can start doing the smaller things you have written. It doesn't matter if you don't achieve your BIG goal, this gives you motivation do do things that interest you.

#4 Save me
This activity is about promoting strengths:
The story goes like this: Your town is invaded by zombies. A rich businessman comes with his helicopter and has room for just one of you. You have to write in a note as many reasons as you can so that the businessman would choose to save you.

#5 Happy memories
In Ms. Harris' classes they keep a 'memory jar', where students write a happy memory in the end of the week. It deosn't have to be a class memory.

#6 Letters of survival in class
Students write a letter to the students of next year, giving them advice and tips how they can survive this particular class, so that "newbies" can get an idea what it will be like and the "oldies" actually realize how far they have come.

#7 Mottos
Students write their favourite Motto and defend it with a presentation.

#8 Flow
The lesson begins with a pictures that represents the word 'flow' and students guest the word.
Flow is when you are so absorbed in something that time flies without even noticing it. Students express their own experiences and present them in class. This can be done with various words like: happiness, perseverance, determination, connection etc.
Another idea is to give students titles from TED talks on these subjects and let them create a presentation.

#9 Strengths survey
Students talk about their stregths and how they can use them in their learning.
There are various tests that can help them like:  Viacharacter.org 

I have to say that I particularly liked this session, the ideas were original and they are something that we can also do for ourselves not only for our students. Definitely trying some of these in my next lessons.

You can always visit the British council site for more info: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2017/session/teaching-well-being-teens

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