Wellness is an important focus for our grade 6/7 classroom and is also a hot topic school and board wide. It encompasses so much of what we do and who we are that it can be difficult to create a specific lesson for “wellness.” In The Heart and Art of Teaching and Learning book, it states, “Getting to know your students is a big part of your success as a teacher” (p 34). This is an important message, as it encourages teachers to be responsive to the specific needs and interests of their current students and not apply generic strategies or lessons.
I recently read a suggestion that a leader should learn and know at least 10 things about a person. This would be a good tool for teachers to use if getting to know the individual needs and interests of their students is challenging for them. A simple notebook with a list under each student name can be filled in as a teacher gets to know new students. I know that for some students I would easily have a list of 20 facts, while there are a few that I would struggle to get 10 for! The Class Database activity (p 39) could be easily modified with questions that involve students’ needs and interests around wellness, to gather some initial data on your students. I have also used a Multiple Intelligence quiz to determine preferences for students and used them (music, nature) throughout the year to guide my plans and make my lessons or activities more inclusive, especially when some students are feeling less confident with content or skill development.
Leading up to Bell Let’s Talk day, we viewed the commercials on YouTube and worked in groups to discuss the effective use of language and its influence on attitude and acceptance. During a language activity with the book, The Man With the Violin, students recognized the sadness of the child and made similar connections from their own experiences of being rushed through their day. We went for a class walk to a nearby park with no activity planned, but to enjoy whatever we noticed. Students were excited to Tweet about their own understanding of wellness using the Bell Let’s Talk #, making suggestions that were accessible and real for them such as “write in a journal” or “talk to an adult”. They are currently making lists of what inspires them and what brightens their day. These activities and discussions continue to be integrated through subjects like language, health, art, music, and science.