Teaching at SoN: Fostering student well-being

Resources from the Teaching at SoN: Fostering student well-being event

Event Title

Fostering student well-being

Presenters

Description

Examine and apply strategies for fostering well-being in learning environments. Familiarize yourself with campus resources and be prepared to refer students to appropriate resources as needed. 

Session Outcomes

  • Examine and apply strategies to foster well-being in learning environments
  • Familiarize yourself with campus resources and be prepared to refer students to appropriate resources as needed.

Reflection Activities

  • When we talk about well-being, what comes to mind for you?
  • In what ways have you supported students in the past?
  • What challenges or roadblocks do you face in your ability to provide support?

Case Scenarios

  1. One of your students missed the midterm exam (accidentally slept in). The student comes to your office and tells you she just broke up with her boyfriend and is having problems concentrating on things. How would you handle this situation?

  2. A few weeks prior to the end of the semester, a student comes to the instructor with concerns about their grade asking for extra credit. The instructor vaguely remembers seeing this student’s recent exam grade (65%). He must rush off to a meeting and has already stated in class that he does not give extra credit. How would you handle this situation?

Protective factors

Protective factors are characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of negative outcomes or that reduce a risk factor's impact. 

Protective factors include individuals, families, or communities that support resilience, help people more effectively manage stressful events, and strengthen other characteristics that minimize the risk of mental health or substance use challenges. They can include participation in group activities outside of work and school, supportive family relationships, religious or spiritual practices, other social support, physical exercise and a healthy diet, positive emotions and hope for the future, and active coping skills, such as journaling, connecting with community clubs or groups, talking to a trusted person about how you’re doing, using online support groups or chat rooms, writing, creating art or music, or developing a hobby.

Together, protective factors and coping skills can bolster resilience – a person’s ability to “bounce back” or overcome adversity. Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone over time.

Mental health challenges happen. According to the 2020  National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 52.9 million people, or 21% of adults ages 18 years or older, experience mental health or substance use challenges each year. As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, those numbers are likely to be higher, with roughly three out of four adults reporting that the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health.

Individual Protective Factors

  • Abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.
  • Help-seeking behavior.
  • Friends and supportive significant others.
  • Hope for the future.
  • Having goals.
  • Pets/Connectedness to others.
  • Good problem-solving skills.
  • Medical compliance and a sense of the importance of health and wellness.

Trauma-informed practices

Trauma-informed means being aware that our students’ collective past and present experiences affect their classroom well-being.

  • Share general support resources with students in the course syllabus.
  • Acknowledge when topics may align with difficult topics.
  • Normalize the process of talking about fear, stress, and anxiety.
  • Build in ”mindful moments” into your class session
  • Create a pathway for students to share personal challenges with you privately.
  • Encourage peer support and mutual self-help in our courses.
  • Consider how and when sharing decision-making can foster greater well-being.

Structure vs. Flexibility

Predictability

  • Establish a routine and maintain clear communication.
  • Creates psychological safety.
  • Allows for space to explain why and how decisions are made.

Flexibility

  • Check assumptions (time, resources, access)
  • Let go of “zero tolerance” policies.
  • Utilize principles of universal design for learning. 

Presentation Materials