Does emotional well-being improve student success?

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As I See It

By ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

For us educators and parents, student success is our paramount concern! We teachers do a lot of things in our classroom instructions to be able to integrate all kinds of lessons that will effectively engage the students and make them become successful in their learning/education. In fact, lesson planning is always checked by school administrators/managers in a regular manner to make sure contextualized learning is integrated in the curriculum.

With the aid of technology and other classroom resources, we do a combination of lectures, group discussions, one-on-one teaching, peer teaching, graded assignments, contextualized learning, Power Point presentation, and the like… all in the name of student success!

For an interactive student atmosphere, teachers need to motivate the students, influence them in a way that we want them to be successful in their education.

We use theoretical and practical moves to motivate them, considering that motivation is the key factor in increasing students’ desire to learn and to work hard for their education.

Lately, I came across this new report on emotional well-being in Education Research – The Journal (Report: Emotional Well-Being Investment Improves Student Outcomes by Sara Friedman), as a factor in the success of students. I thought, it will be a good thing to know, not only for teachers but to parents and other stakeholders. The new survey finds schools that place an emphasis on student emotional well-being have better cognition outcomes. It is somehow related to ways students are motivated even more when we use positive emotions to enhance their learning.

More educators across the world are investing in the emotional well-being of their students as a precursor of success, according to a new survey commissioned by Microsoft and produced by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit.

The report surveyed 762 educators across 15 countries at the elementary and secondary school levels. With 15 countries involved in the research, I think this is a universally-accepted practice in helping our students to succeed.

“We are seeing emotional well-being become a very intentional input that needs to be embedded and addressed a whole school level,” said Mark Sparvell, an education thought leader at Microsoft.  “We are getting this message that the kids are not alright.  There is positive pressure coming from education, research and policymakers to address emotional well-being,” he added.

Check this out, the survey found 79 percent of educators see positive emotions as very or extremely important for academic success and half of all educators are working in schools with explicit emotional-being policies. Educators in Brazil, Chile and Mexico “are the most enthusiastic and proactive adopters of well-being policies and ideas, and nearly two-thirds agree that prioritizing student well-being and emotional health is important to develop them into healthy adults and responsible citizens”. Maybe we can adopt this in our classrooms and find out if it works.

“The indication is that social, emotional and academic learning in Latin America is tied together,” said Sparvell. “The well-being at a school level requires a particular vision for the kinds of learners that a school is seeking and that well-being needs to be embedded in the curriculum,” he explained. If its working in Latin America, maybe there is a chance it will work here in the US, although I’m not sure if some of our progressive schools have already started the program, considering that the inputs were universal in nature having respondents coming from 15 countries.

When it comes to engaged educators, the survey found 37 percent of educators believe that students’ emotional well-being is “inextricably linked” to their academic success. Seventy percent of these engaged educators think that the topic of emotional well-being has become much more important over the recent years, and 53 percent of these educators work in schools that have formal well-being policies.

To help students and teachers improve their emotional well-being capabilities, technology plays a part in enabling emotional health.  The study shows that “data gathering and analytics tools play the strongest role in helping teachers encourage student well-being at 49 percent and 46 percent, respectively. While online games and virtual assistants are widely discussed as potentially valuable additions to the personalized learning agenda, approximately 15 percent of educators find these solutions useful”.

Sparvell said that, “When students are able to receive feedback on their emotional state and leaders are able to get information on how their students are functioning, then it can lead to reactions from educators.” This, to me, is important because we can generate honest-to-goodness feedback from students which result will serve as a critical input for us teachers to assess our students.

When it comes to improving the emotional health of students, the report provides a list of best practices in gathering data to identify students’ mental and emotional health and track whether supportive measures are working; involving teachers in the development of well-being plans, and making investments in expertise to design and deliver empirically-sound instruction and content and educate teachers on how to deliver this content. It may be a tedious process in individually identifying the factors in every student, but I think it’s worth it. With student and teacher involvement in the process, it will yield a more realistic and positive result at the end. These best practices serves as our guide in evaluating our own students in the classroom based on the program and adopt our own best practices tailored-fit in our classrooms.

The author of the new report Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics. She is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@1105media.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Since we have examples of best practices to follow, why not venture in emotional well-being as a factor for student success? This will give us additional resource in helping our students succeed in their education!

(For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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