It’s easy to forget just how the pandemic has impacted our reliance and dependence on technology in our day-to-day lives. The dependence has resulted in a substantial increase in screen time for most people. Which has a direct impact on student well-being in the digital classroom.
Unfortunately, this impact has negatively affected students due to the physical and mental effects of increased screen time, including aches and pains, increased sedentary behaviours, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and increased isolation.
Due to the pandemic, both teachers and students are dependent on technology to stay connected, study and even socialise. This is why as we transition to the post-pandemic educational culture, it is important that we consider digital wellness as an essential ingredient for student well-being in the digital classroom.
The Future of Student Well-being
Digital wellness prioritises student well-being and seeks to minimise the negative impacts of our reliance on technology. How? By promoting the development of self-awareness through a mindful approach to technology use in order to improve productivity, concentration, focus and overall mental and physical well-being.
There are a number of ways teachers can explore digital wellness and teach students how to maintain a healthy relationship with technology in our always-on(line), tech-dependent world.
“There are a number of ways teachers can explore digital wellness and teach students how to maintain a healthy relationship with technology in our always-on(line), tech-dependent world.”
Teachers all over the world had to come up with fun and creative ways to teach and provide materials for their students during remote learning. From showing up to online classes dressed as smurfs, to coming up with strategies such as Steven Bollar’s 7 week staff to student relationship challenge, the education community continues to work endlessly to make sure that students are getting the best out of their educational experience.
One of the biggest factors, that I’m sure many educators can also agree on, was the rift that the distance element of remote learning created in many student-teacher relationships.
In order to overcome such challenges, these relationships need to be redeveloped to help students and teachers to get to know each other again.
It’s been over 2 years since the start of remote or hybrid learning for the majority of students around the world, with some students being completely without education during the pandemic due to the digital divide that exists. Students do not know their teachers well anymore and it is important for their mental well-being and the development of trust and respect, that they work on redeveloping these relationships.
Which brings up the importance of taking the time to develop “healthy” relationships. It is so important, as some kids don’t know what a healthy adult relationship in a classroom is like – simply due to the extended duration of learning from home. The responsibility (like so many others) unfortunately lands on the teacher to take the lead in showcasing how to create these relationships, and just as importantly, maintain them.
It’s these relationships that are so important in driving learning in classrooms.
“It’s these relationships that are so important in driving learning in classrooms.”
How to redevelop teacher-student relationships
Some tips and tricks on how teachers can rebuild these relationships can be found in “Steven Bollar’s Seven Week Teacher to Student Relationship Challenge”. What is it you may ask? Well, it’s a challenge for teachers to help develop better relationships with their students.
Let me provide you with a quick overview.
In each week of the challenge, teachers are tasked with finding a new student every day and learning something new about them, complimenting them or simply just acknowledging them.
If, for example, a school has 20 teachers, each teacher every day for a week is to find a student that they don’t know. Take a moment to imagine the conversation between the teacher and a student:
Teacher: “Hey Tracy,
Student: “How do you know my name?”
Teacher: “But everybody knows you, Tracy, how are you doing?”
Will this small exercise, this small moment of true engagement, do you think teachers can create a relationship between themselves and their students? Yes, of course! And it’s so simple and easy, but yet such a powerful way to (re)develop relationships between teachers and students. Relationships that are significant and impactful.
Just think of the relations you had with your teachers growing up, whether positive or negative and how those impacted you – and how many of those you remember to this day. So many of those moments to create lasting relationships have been missed in recent years, and taking the time to make up for it can go a long way in rekindling your students’ relationship with their school life.
Both as children and adults, we’re out of practice on how to interact with one another, even more so in groups. This is why it is important for us to find ways to purposely have little themes, little goals, just small moments that we can use to inch towards blossoming and beautiful relationships – relationships that teachers and educators can use for engaged and valuable learning!
Create your engaged classroom
Online learning can also result in students becoming more isolated and not interacting or participating in ways similar to a traditional classroom. In these instances, teachers have continued to develop strategies to include the sometimes missing human element in the digital classroom.
While education is obviously important to every teacher, it is crucial that you become invested in listening to your students. Just like everyone else going through the pandemic, students are also experiencing many difficulties.
Generally, in a face-to-face environment, it is easier for students to get up and request assistance, or even for teachers to spot despondent body language when a student might start to lose hope. Additionally, small moments of joy have slipped out of our days, from students having the opportunity to share their insights or activities over lunch, to making jokes in the corridor between classes – it’s been completely different recently.
More than technology; it’s really who you are as a person that students will cherish and remember. This is why for your students’ well-being in the digital classroom, it is so important to continue to build healthy relationships with their teachers beyond all the screens that we have become accustomed to.
Team Mobile Guardian