Supporting student well-being

Virtual summer school: 4 ways to support student well-being

By Richie Almeida, Integrated Marketing Specialist on June 11, 2020

In a time where school districts continue to go digital, consider these tips to help support your students from a distance. 

From the abrupt switch to remote learning and the need for altered lesson plans to getting creative in celebrating the class of 2020—this is one school year that many will remember forever. Although the year has come to a close, education still goes on for many students and educators in a different form—summer school.

Summer school provides meaningful academic opportunities for student development—and with the time needed to adjust to the new normal over the last few months—it may be even more important this year. As many schools across the country continue distanced learning for the summer, teachers should continue to adapt and ensure student health is in a good state—both physically and mentally.

Trauma, challenging home situations, grief—there can be a lot going on behind the scenes of a student’s life. On top of that, the disruption to the everyday classroom experience can add increased stress, anxiety and fears of the unknown.

As a teacher is there to support a student’s education, they should also be there to support their mental health. Strengthen that feeling of community and connection and help your students prioritize self-care with these 4 tips.


1. Consistent Communication

You may not be able to physically see them, but creating virtual safe spaces for students to open up can go a long way. According to Psychology Today, studies show that one way we can reduce physical and emotional distress is by talking about our problems and sharing our negative emotions with someone that we trust.

Simple text messages and phone calls are a great start to let your students know that you’re there for them. Take it a step further with messaging platforms like Remind or Class Dojo to build a classroom community and stay in contact with families. Utilize Google Forms to get even more insight on how a student’s day or week is going, how they’re holding up mentally, goals for the summer and feedback to better their remote experience.

Have you considered hosting virtual office hours on platforms like Zoom? Or even sending handwritten mental health check-ins? There are many options out there that can be utilized to stay connected with students of all age groups—even those who may lack internet access.


2. Find a Routine

During times of crises and the unknown, it’s easy to feel like you have little control as the climate around you is ever-changing—bringing on unwanted stress and anxiety. You can help ease these feelings with a regular routine that can be incorporated in your online classroom and outside of it.

Talk to students and parents about creating calendars and schedules at home that detail times for waking up, completing school work, family time and time set aside for favorite activities and hobbies. When it comes to your virtual classroom, do you have a consistent schedule for logging on, discussing lessons and time set apart for students to get social with each other?

Outside of providing a sense of stability, these strategies can give students an opportunity to be more autonomous and work on time and self-management while studying from home.  


3. Promote Expression

With remote learning, it can be more challenging to get a feel for a student’s emotional well-being. Those moments where you can pull them to the side after class just aren’t there. That makes finding outlets to express their emotions even more important. Encourage your students to create journal entries or videos to capture thoughts, feelings and experiences throughout their distanced learning.

The power of journaling can have many mental health benefits, including:

  • Managing anxiety
  • Reducing stress
  • Coping with depression
  • Helping prioritize fears and concerns
  • Identifying negative thoughts and behaviors

Whether they choose to share with you, their peers or keep it personal, journaling can be a great way to identify stressors, gain control of emotions and better understand themselves.


4. Seek Out Supporters

Strong relationships are important when dealing with life’s difficulties and your students might need a reminder that although they may be feeling isolated, they are never truly alone. Between family, coaches, neighbors and friends, there are people in their lives who truly care about them and can provide a great deal of emotional support.

Talk to your students and identify who they are. When they come across those overwhelming feelings they can look to someone in their support system who can help them address and respond to their issues in a positive, healthy manner. 

In a time where schools are practicing learning from a distance, these are all great strategies you and your students can put into action to prioritize self-care. Encourage them to find time to take a step back and look for ways to address their feelings and find healthy ways to cope. Whether you’re teaching remotely or in-person these are all steps that educators can incorporate to support their students’ well-being as we move forward to summer school and beyond.


5 benefits of being a lifelong learner

Richie Almeida, Integrated Marketing Specialist

Richie is an avid movie goer with an addiction to Sour Patch Kids. If he isn’t at the movies, he is at the gym or on a hike trying to make up for his bad eating habits.


The information contained in this blog post is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace expert advice in connection with the topics presented. Glatfelter specifically disclaims any liability for any act or omission by any person or entity in connection with the preparation, use or implementation of plans, principles, concepts or information contained in this publication.

Glatfelter does not make any representation or warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the results obtained by the use, adherence or implementation of the material contained in this publication. The implementation of the plans, principles, concepts or materials contained in this publication is not a guarantee that you will achieve a certain desired result. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a professional advisor, architect or other expert prior to the implementation of plans, principles, concepts or materials contained in this publication.

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