So this is the first blog I’ve written in over 3 years. I have been very unsettled by the school closures just over a week ago and the cancelling of state examinations due to the Coronavirus pandemic. I’m incredibly anxious about a lot of things (which I imagine many people are at the moment) but predominantly about the well being of my family, friends, colleagues and students. I woke up this morning and decided to reopen my website and to start blogging again as a welcome distraction and in the hope that I can share some teaching resources and tips with other teachers who are in a similar situation. I am nervous about adapting to a new way of teaching, learning and pastoral care which is now online/digital but have endeavored to be realistic in my expectations and to do the best that I can do. I am also conscious that many of the students that I teach over the next few months will have their own concerns and anxieties and that the impact of the Corona virus pandemic on our well being will be very significant as the weeks and months go on.
As a Mental Health First Aider and a Head of Year in a secondary school in the UK I am putting together a list of useful resources and creating some of my own resources which may help me and my team support students in a pastoral way over the upcoming months. Feel free to use any that may help you and your students too and I will be posting other blogs with more ideas as the weeks unfold.
The first is the happiness hour homework task which has a real “feel good factor ”and the inspiration for this activity came from reading the book the Happiness Trap by Russ Harries and by completing a happiness hour task on the MHFA first aid training course. The instructions for this task can be found on this PowerPoint which can be adapted to each school setting and for online pastoral work. An alternative to this activity for students working at home now is to ask them to do a different happiness activity every day and to submit a reflection or photo of their favourite activity at the end of the week.
If you have students who enjoy baking you could ask them to bake (just advise that they discuss this with parents/guardians) and hold a happy cafe event at home with their family and send some photos in. This is a great way to get family involved and potentially the whole school as you could arrange a virtual school and family happy cafe event every few weeks and share the photos on school approved social media or in a school google slide link which can be shared with the whole school community. An alternative to this is to hold a Fakeaway Friday event were students can cook a healthier alternative to take away with their families on a Friday evening and share their photos/recipes with the school community the following week. Some of my favourite recipe suggestions for this include garlic dough balls, pizza and homemade burgers.
On the theme of happiness, I would like to draw your attention to the great website that is https://www.actionforhappiness.org/ and in particular their monthly calendar which I share at the start of the month with my students. April’s theme is coping which is particularly apt at this challenging time and here is the link to the calendar https://www.actionforhappiness.org/media/863032/coping_calendar.jpg and here is the link to suggestions for responding constructively to the COVID-19 pandemic:https://www.actionforhappiness.org/news/covid-19-how-to-respond.
Below are a number of useful websites that school communities may find helpful and supportive over the next few months. We are encouraging students not to overexpose themselves to feeds on social media which may be giving incorrect information or may cause anxieties to increase further.
Feel free to add any comments of how these activities go for you or email me at foodandhealthteacher.com if you have any further queries.