This week, Daryl has been asked 5 trending questions from the education sector:
Mental health must be taken very seriously from September, lots of children will have experienced worry, anxiety, and fear for a large part of the year. This could be worries about their own health, family or friends and some unfortunate children may have even lost loved ones during this time.
Their parents may have been furloughed or made redundant, all this adds to stress and pressure in the household dynamic that children do not fully understand.
From my own experience during lockdown I’ve felt all these emotions, but luckily, I’m able to rationalise my feelings and deal with worries quickly and calmly. 5 to 16 year old me would certainly have struggled during the pandemic, I know how scared I was when BSE (mad cow disease) was all over the media and if I’m being completely honest, most of those fears were for my own health. Communication from my school and parents was poor, leaving me feeling anxious and scared about the future.
Schools must monitor behaviour closely as this may be the only key indicator, we have to work with in terms of understanding pupils emotions. Reviewing historical behaviour trends before the re-start in September could be a good way of increasing knowledge to provide the best possible support, for example, does pupil X always misbehave on a Monday anyway or is this something the school must take more seriously.
Pupils will be coming back with mixed emotions and schools must do all they can to offer a positive experience with mental well-being high on the agenda. To combat the concerns lots of children are feeling, a simple 5 step solution is offered by The Conversation.
Should your school wish to monitor behaviour more effectively, without having the funds available to invest in behaviour management software, TES provide free resources such as a behaviour crib sheet, behaviour self-evaluation forms and report writing.
I read a shocking statistic a few weeks ago that said “19% of cyberbullying victims attempt suicide”…we live in a digital age where young people’s lives are broadcasted online every single day, now speaking from my own experiences, a few negative comments during an average week can have a negative impact on my mood, some of these young people are being criticised every single day so I can only begin to imagine how they must be feel.
We need to do more in school to educate pupils on how to use social media and what should and should not be going online, also how to deal with criticism, parents and teachers need to be aligned in their views on this to reduce the statistic.
Changes in behaviour are always a good indicator when it comes to identifying a problem with a child, are they angry more regularly? Can they tend to look frustrated or sad when they are staring into the mobile phones? Have their eating habits changed? Have they started to struggle to get out of bed in the morning? Has their group of friends recently changed? These are some of the signs that parents can look out for but from a teacher’s perspective, I would consider their effort, focus in lesson, engagement in the classroom and attitude.
There is some really useful free cyber bullying content available from UK Safer Internet Centre, including a PowerPoint presentation, posters and activities.
Good clear communication of new processes – I would recommend doing so on video, if you outline exactly how the school is going to protect each child in the new academic year, this will help increase the confidence of parents and pupils, hopefully going some way to removing the fears we all have.
You may also wish to include how the school will function if you go back into lockdown. Nobody wants this to happen again but as we’ve seen over the last weeks it is a very real possibility. Therefore, schools need to communicate the strategy should they be faced with this situation once again.
The video should be positive, informative but crystal clear to reduce anxiety levels for both parents and pupils.
My advice would be to share the video on social media and encourage parents to watch it with their children, through whichever means you utilise to communicate with parents (I recommend group texting as a good option) and request feedback, get the hard questions out of the way before term starts!
I have no doubt we are going to see a technology boom in education. From my experience, many schools have been reluctant to adopt methods such as blended learning, whereas now, based on the pandemic, they will have no choice but to consider new ways of leveraging technology to enhance available resources.
Let’s talk hypothetically for a moment and say we go back into lockdown at some stage, schools will be expected to be better prepared and having resources such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom available to staff is essential in enabling education to continue, any school that doesn’t now move into the digital age will have angry parents knocking on their door asking why.
In regard to daily practices, I personally would like to see more classes recorded so that pupils can review the recording to help with homework and assignments, this would certainly have helped me achieve more. This gives each child a chance to fully understand what is being taught at their own pace.
When I’m trying to learn a new skill, for example cutting my own hair (which I did during lockdown and still do to this day), I will re-watch the video, stop, start, go back to certain points and by the end of it I’ll have the required knowledge, why can’t schools offer this resource to their pupils?
We have learnt an awful lot about our customers this year, all of our meetings, since the pandemic began, have been held online via Microsoft Teams, the number of schools that have adopted new technology in order to continue progress has been excellent. I must say not all schools have been advanced users since day one but the majority are now able to use video conferencing without too much fuss and most will show their faces so it feels like you are actually meeting someone face to face.
This has been reflected in the BehaviourWatch team also as we are spread out across the country but have become really strong in using video conferencing as a means of communication, meetings that would have typically needed to be face to face have been done online resulting in the same outcome, showing us that we may not need to travel as much as we have historically.
To summarise, the main thing I’ve learnt during 2020 is that we can adapt during difficult times and so can our customers!
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