Tip #2: Notice sadness, sickness or ‘out of character’ behaviour
When you’ve known your students for a short while, it becomes easy to notice a sad face or quiet disposition when normally there would happiness and light.
In these situations, walk over to the student or ask them to stay behind for a minute or so. Ask the student:
“Is everything okay?”
“I notice you’re a little sad today, is there anything I can help with?”
Reassure your students that you’re here for them and that they can talk to you if they ever feel the need to do so.
Our kids bring all kinds of emotional baggage to school to with them. A sullen or grim-looking face could have been caused by any one of a myriad of different things: a conflict at home, an argument with a friend at school, a detention from another teacher or even a remark that was taken the wrong way.
Sometimes all our kids need is a good listener to offload their problems too. That can be the conversation that literally turns a child from depressed and stressed to empowered and happy.
Don’t forget to refer students to a school counsellor to take it to the next level if the student reveals that something serious is causing the sadness that he or she is facing. Never guarantee confidentiality – always make students aware that if you feel that they need extra help, then you may have to talk with a senior teacher or someone else in the school community.
Don’t ignore sickness too, and wish for your students to ‘get well soon’. Ask about sports injuries if you notice any – a quick conversation can reveal information about a student that you never knew before and can help you to build up a good professional relationship.
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