Working online has been exhausting for students, teachers, and parents. It has also been frustrating, exasperating, and tiring for everyone. We have to commend ourselves for our hardiness and persistence in spite of hardships and dedication. We are all in this together.
How do we handle and manage this? For some, it has been difficult and tense. For others, there have been benefits. What makes some thrive and others come to the last thread of coping? We are all different, with our needs, styles of learning, teaching, and way of living. Having a good support system such as our family, a good social network, and administration is key.
ISD decided to prioritise wellbeing from the beginning of this school year. This is so important because when we are stressed, we do not learn well. In Primary, the amount of wellbeing lessons for children have increased. Mindfulness has been a key focus. Mindfulness is paying attention to things as they are right now; like your breath, your body, and the sounds around you. Research shows that practicing mindfulness can calm people down, help them focus, and help them connect with others better. We are using Mind Yeti every week with supplementary sessions on Seesaw.
Students are also receiving sessions each week on skills for learning such as how to be good listeners, how to focus, use self-talk and be assertive to get what you want and need in a respectful way. The next unit is empathy, skills for getting along with others. Later in the year, dealing with strong feelings and problem solving, will be the focus. These lessons increase self-confidence and personal wellbeing.
In Secondary, students receive weekly homeroom sessions, specially designed to meet the requirements of the Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) curriculum. These lessons are focused on situations students are likely to encounter and the focus is to generate the ability to be autonomous and make decisions on their own that will make them safer, healthier, and happier. Young people need to be given opportunities to explore their own values so they have a clear sense of where they stand when faced with challenging moments.
Secondary students have covered lessons on Mental Wellbeing, Online Stress & FOMO, Time Management, What to do with Worry/Anxiety. This week they are covering Social Media and influence; the good and the bad sides of being a Social Media user. Topics to be covered later in this term include Sleep, Dealing with Change, Study Skills, Bullying & Cyberbullying, Drugs/Tobacco/Alcohol, Career/College Exploration, Puberty/Adolescence, Exam Stress, Social Exclusion, Body Image in the Digital World, Forming Positive relationships, Disabilities=Abilities.
You may have heard about the popular Kahoot and Skribbl games going on during lunch hours each Thursday! Students in grades 6-8 have been participating in Kahoot quizzes and online Skribbl. Kids have a chance to unwind, have fun, eat their lunch, and talk with each other. It is a great place to share, connect, and have fun together.
In addition, all teachers received the option to look at their own stress levels with a new tool called Adults Resilience During Crisis Module in August. This module is designed to help teachers and leaders strengthen their own resilience in the face of extreme stress and to recognize the signs of students in need of support. The units cover Self-Care, Caring for Each Other, and Student Care.
Now more than ever is the right time to take care of the emotional and mental wellbeing of yourselves and your family. This will give you a leading edge in managing and coping with not only these unusual times but others in the future. Take a moment for mindfulness. Body Scan youtube videos are a refreshing pause to just quietly observe your own inner self to enhance calm, for example, Finding Peace in a Frantic World 8 min.
Taking walks every day wherever possible, doing some stretching, and a weekly activity plan along with using our creativity in some way with food, painting, design, clothing, or plants also replenishes our souls. Remember the basics of good sleep, calling friends, and healthy eating. Take care of yourself and those you love. Be well! We are in this together.
The writers are counselors at International School Dhaka