In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of student voice in shaping and improving schools. Students are not just passive recipients of education but active participants who can offer valuable insights, feedback, and perspectives. Let’s explore three compelling reasons why student voice is vital for school improvement.
Fresh Perspectives and Ideas: Students Drive Innovation and Creativity
Students bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table that can drive school innovation and creativity. Encouraging students to share their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions can lead to new ways of thinking and problem-solving. Students often have unique insights and creativity that can result in innovative approaches and ideas that adults may not have considered.
For example, students can provide feedback on the curriculum, propose new extracurricular activities, or suggest improvements to school facilities. By actively seeking and valuing student input, schools can tap into their students’ diverse talents, interests, and ideas, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.
Empowerment and Ownership: Students Feel Valued and Engaged
When students’ voices are heard and valued, it empowers them and gives them a sense of ownership in their education. When students are involved in decision-making processes, such as setting classroom rules or determining school policies, they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for their learning environment. This can increase student engagement, motivation, and a sense of pride in their school community.
Empowering students through their voice also helps build their self-esteem and confidence, as they feel heard, respected, and valued as essential stakeholders in their education. This can foster a positive and inclusive school climate where students are motivated to participate actively in their learning journey.
Authentic Learning Opportunities: Students Develop Essential Skills
Involving students in decision-making processes and valuing their voice provides them with authentic learning opportunities to develop essential skills that go beyond the academic curriculum. Students who are encouraged to express their opinions, engage in discussions, and present their ideas develop critical thinking, communication, and leadership skills essential for future success.
Furthermore, by involving students in the decision-making process, schools promote democratic values and civic participation, nurturing active and engaged citizens who are empowered to voice their opinions and contribute meaningfully to their communities.
When students experience good mental and emotional health, they are more likely to perform well academically.
The link between academic performance and student well-being is a critical aspect of education that should not be overlooked. This article will explore the relationship between academic performance and student well-being and discuss how schools can promote both.
Students experiencing high-stress levels, anxiety, or other mental health issues are more likely to struggle with their studies. These issues can affect a student’s ability to concentrate, focus, and retain information. Additionally, students with mental health issues may be more likely to miss classes or assignments, further impacting their academic performance.
On the other hand, when students experience good mental and emotional health, they are more likely to perform well academically. When students feel safe, supported, and connected to their school community, they are more likely to be engaged in their studies and motivated to succeed.
So What Can Schools Do?
How can schools promote both academic performance and student well-being? One key strategy is to create a positive and inclusive school environment. This includes fostering a culture of respect, kindness, and empathy and providing access to mental health resources and support. Schools can also prioritize social-emotional learning by teaching students mindfulness, self-awareness, and relationship-building skills.
Another strategy is to identify and address potential sources of stress or anxiety for students. This could include academic pressure, social pressure, or other external stressors. By addressing these sources of stress, schools can help alleviate some of the mental and emotional burdens that students may be experiencing.
Additionally, schools can work to promote healthy habits and lifestyles among students. This could include providing access to nutritious meals, promoting physical activity, and teaching healthy sleep habits. Schools can help students develop the physical and emotional resilience they need to succeed academically by promoting healthy habits.
Schools that create a positive and inclusive school environment, identify and address potential sources of stress, and promote healthy habits and lifestyles can help students thrive academically and emotionally. Educators can help all students succeed in school and beyond by working together to promote student well-being.
The importance of assessing and monitoring student well-being in K-12 schools cannot be overstated. This article will discuss why assessing and monitoring student well-being is essential and what schools can do to promote student well-being.
Increase Academic Performance
First and foremost, student well-being is a critical factor in academic performance. Studies have shown that students struggling with mental health issues, stress, or other forms of distress are more likely to struggle academically. By assessing and monitoring student well-being, teachers and school administrators can identify students who may be struggling and offer the necessary support to help them succeed academically.
Identify Student Issues Before They Escalate
Secondly, monitoring student well-being can help identify potential issues before they become more significant problems. It is vital to catch any problems early on so that students can get the support they need to succeed. By regularly assessing student well-being, schools can identify issues and address them quickly before they escalate.
Build A Positive School Climate
Assessing and monitoring student well-being is crucial for creating a positive school climate. When schools prioritize student well-being, students feel valued and supported, leading to a more positive and inclusive school environment. Students are more likely to feel connected to their school and peers, which can positively impact their overall well-being.
Identify And Address Systemic Issues
Finally, assessing and monitoring student well-being is essential for identifying and addressing systemic issues within the school environment. If certain groups of students consistently struggle with mental health issues or stress, it may be a sign that deeper systemic issues must be addressed. By identifying these issues, schools can take steps to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all students.
In conclusion, assessing and monitoring student well-being is critical to K-12 education. By prioritizing student well-being, schools can support academic success, identify potential issues before they become bigger problems, create a positive school climate, and identify systemic issues that must be addressed. We can help all students succeed and thrive in school and life by working together to promote student well-being.
Duckworth’s work is part of a growing area of psychology research focused on what is loosely called “noncognitive skills.” The goal is to identify and measure the skills and traits other than intelligence that contribute to human development and success.
In her research, Duckworth analyzed data from more than 10,000 women and men who, on entry to the US Military Academy at West Point, completed measures of persistence, cognitive ability, and physical ability and were followed longitudinally through graduation. She discovered that cognitive and noncognitive factors could predict long-term achievement, with characteristics like intelligence, persistence, and physical capacity influencing a person’s ability to succeed differently
Why is Persistence Important For Students? 1. It is an underlying characteristic of successful individuals 2. It may be more important than IQ, test scores, and other traditional forms of intelligence 3. Persistent students appear to outperform their less persistent counterparts
Why Is Persistence Important?
Persistence involves completing a process that has been started. Being persistent means that a student completes a task even if it is difficult or tedious or not what the student would like to do at a particular time.
Research has shown that humans have a fundamental drive to engage with easy, relaxing, safe, and familiar tasks and finding the most straightforward solutions to a problem. When faced with challenging situations, students must overcome this fundamental drive with persistence, which involves self-control, delayed gratification, and emotional regulation.
Everyone can persevere to varying degrees, and it is essential to note that it is an ability that can be developed. A student with a strong sense of perseverance can face obstacles, complex challenges, negative emotions, and even failure. Plus, they will be able to maintain focus and continue to work towards a goal. For these reasons, persistence is critical to students’ academic performance and overall well-being.
Assessing Student Persistence
Bloomsights recognizes the importance of noncognitive skills in predicting success and the need to measure them as part of a school’s efforts to prepare students for lifelong achievement. Our formative schoolwide screener makes it easy for schools to assess and monitor academic, behavioral, and social emotional indicators (such as persistence and self-management) that are most predictive of postsecondary success from grades 2 through 12. More importantly, Bloomishgts makes it possible to identify students who need support with these essential skill sets and equips teachers and school counselors with personalized intervention strategies to help students grow.
If you’re a teacher, you have A LOT on your plate. Learn how sociograms help you promote your students’ social health and overall classroom dynamics.
Returning to school is turning out to be more challenging than expected.
It would be nice if the “new normal” simply involved bouncing back to that pre-pandemic classroom rhythm. But as it turns out, that’s not the case…
Students are struggling with the basics of social interactions and classroom norms.
Teachers are struggling to find the time to support their students’ social emotional needs while juggling lesson planning, grading, administrative work, and other expectations.
Counselors are struggling with overwhelming caseloads of students, finding themselves very much outnumbered.
If you’re a teacher or a school counselor, you know firsthand how challenging the last couple of years have been for your students. From isolation to psychological stress, students are still experiencing the effects of the pandemic. The grief, anxiety, and depression children experienced during the pandemic have manifested in the classroom through behaviors such as profound sadness and crying, as well as disruptive behavior in elementary schools and increased violence and bullying among adolescents.
Knowing the social landscape of your classroom is a game-changer when it comes to rebuilding students’ interpersonal relationships, strengthening their sense of belonging, and reducing isolation and feelings of loneliness. And the easiest way to assess your students’ social health is by using a sociogram tool. Sociograms can help you reinforce positive and healthy interactions among students and help you start the next school year with confidence.
Sociograms aren’t new, but they do have unique importance in today’s school environments. Here’s an overview of the ways sociograms can help you in your classroom:
Provide an understanding of social dynamics and classroom social structures
Give you data to help make decisions
Give you an understanding of student behavior
Cut out the guesswork of classroom dynamics
Now that we covered the basics of how you can use sociograms to make your classroom environment better let’s dive into how sociograms can improve classroom dynamics.
How to Use Sociograms to Improve Classroom Dynamics
As a teacher, you spend a lot of time trying to understand the social dynamics in your classroom.
Much of this time could be better spent mitigating conflict between students or facilitating positive interactions and relationships because strong student communities help decrease bullying and classroom disruptions and serve as the foundation for a productive, positive, and healthy classroom climate.
And less conflict in the classroom means less work for you as a teacher.
As just one example of how sociograms can help with classroom dynamics, studies suggest that the prevention of victimization is most effective when there is early intervention.
Since sociograms give teachers and counselors the data to understand social structures in the classroom, they can help you recognize victimization taking root before it turns into bullying. And the data from sociograms can also save students from the harmful effects of bullying.
Let’s explore how else sociograms can help you prepare for the next school year.
How Sociograms Can Make Classroom Planning Easier for Teachers
Sociograms give you straightforward ways to measure students’ connections with their peers. This valuable information can help you make the best possible decisions for your students and your overall classroom dynamics. Plus, research shows that students who attend schools with a high level of student community are more driven and willing to take risks academically.
Sociograms help your students thrive by:
Cutting down on time you’d typically spend grouping students for academic reasons. Educators spend so much time thinking about how to group students academically but often forget about their social needs in the process.
Making it easy to address students’ social needs in the process of academic grouping – This can foster a more inclusive, dynamic learning environment.
Giving you the data you need to make informed decisions – Data from sociograms show whether or not a student feels isolated. This allows you to stop the problem before it gets worse.
Stopping classroom disruptions before they become a problem – If a student struggles to make social connections, they can act out with behavioral issues grounded in a need for attention.
Armed with this information, you can make the 2022-23 school year easier by understanding classroom dynamics. By knowing students’ social needs, you understand your students better overall. This makes decisions such as lesson plans and when to intervene in conflict more straightforward.
The Added Bonus of Bloomsights’ Sociogram
As educators, you know the one thing that can bring on a sudden sense of dread…the seating chart.
It’s complicated. It’s necessary. It may have to be adjusted at a moment’s notice.
With Bloomsights, you can make a data-informed seating chart in seconds.
With our Groups tool, you can automatically pair students based on the likelihood of them establishing stronger social connections.
This might bring to mind another time suck: creating student rosters for the upcoming school year.
The Bloomsights’ grouping tool can also help make these decisions more straightforward as you create student rosters.
Make the 2022-23 School Year the Best One Yet
Teaching is one of the most challenging jobs, period. You have to balance planning your curriculum with administrative duties and the social aspects and dynamics of the classroom. It’s a lot of work, but you do it because you care about your students’ academic and psychological well-being.
If you’ve been teaching for any length of time, you know how the right tools make all the difference. The Bloomsights sociogram is the tool that will help you understand your students’ social health in a matter of minutes.
As school counseling programs move to make data-driven decision-making the cornerstone of student support efforts, school counselors are increasingly expected to collect and analyze data to measure program impact. This can become overwhelming for counselors who are often responsible for hundreds of students at a time.
Student data available is often quantitative and not qualitative. Consequently, counselors spend hours analyzing data that lacks the human insights they need to dig into how their students feel about themselves and school. Without qualitative data, it’s difficult for counselors to demonstrate intervention effectiveness, guide program development, and, most importantly, ensure that every child thrives. As a result, counselors find themselves often spending more time on data collection and less time doing the human work needed to support their students.
With so many different data points to consider in order to effectively counsel so many students, school counselors are looking to digital tools for help. One such tool is Bloomsights, a schoolwide screener aimed at gauging student well-being and school climate.
Bloomsights provides counselors with a continuous process to collect, analyze, and evaluate student social emotional needs and inform decision making at the student, classroom, and school level. Using short, online monthly student check-ins, Bloomsights tracks student well-being to comprehensively encourage student social and emotional development. What’s new and exciting is Bloomsights allows students to share who they feel connected to and the strength of these connections. This data is graphed using sociograms to reveal the social structure in classrooms and the underlying social dynamics of groups and individual students.
Student results are ready immediately and align with both ASCA Student Standards and CASEL indicators of student well-being and school climate. A simple red, yellow, green scale is used to organize students into tiers (think MTSS Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3) so counselors can quickly identify students in need of support and recognize indicators of student well-being that may normally go unnoticed. Additionally, Bloomsights equips counselors with prevention and intervention strategies that fit with each tier and with students’ needs. The result is a simplified view of SEL data that gives counselors clarity and frames data use in new ways so that insights gleaned are seen as augmenting, instead of replacing counselors’ valuable and intuitive observations.
The ASCA Student Standards: Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success describe the knowledge, skills, and attitudes students need to achieve academic success, college and career readiness, and social emotional development. The CASEL 5 address five broad and interrelated areas of competence that help cultivate skills and environments that advance students’ leaning and development. Areas of competence include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
To see how a Bloomsights indicator aligns to these frameworks, click on a Class or Student indicator and go to the information tab.
Tiered Interventions for Individual Students
Prevention and intervention strategies for individual students can be found under the What You Can Do tab in Bloomsights Student Indicators.
MTSS and Bloomsights
In Bloomsights, prevention and intervention strategies for students are organized by MTSS tiers and roles. You can use the links at the top of the page to toggle between Teachers and Counselors.
MTSS Tier 1 Prevention strategies are best for green students. You can use MTSS Tier 2 Target Interventions strategies with your yellow students. For red students, scroll to the list of interventions below MTSS Tier 3 Intensive Interevention.
Tying It All Together
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”- Abraham Maslow
Next, look at the top two roes of your Class Indicators page. These 8 indictors are top priority and are noticeably interconnected. Click on a few indicators with higher than expected numbers of red and yellow student to get more information so you can better define your students’ needs.
Don’t forget to take a look at the Class Sociogram to dig a bit deeper. Do you have any students plotted on the outside circles of the sociogram? Are these students red or yellow in the top 8 Indictors? Take some time to click on students to see how they are connected to each other.
You can also use the Response page to filter your student responses by category and question performance. Select a category and then select “Lowest” from the drop down to see which questions have the most negative responses.
By this point, you have likely found an area of concern and identified some students who need support for one or two indicators. Click on these indicators and go to the What You Can Do tab and find some universal prevention strategies that you think will work well with your class.
Get To The Root of Student Issues
Bloomsights is a formative assessment tool aimed at gauging student well-being and improving school climate as a way to comprehensively encourage student social emotional development. Simplify your SEL data to get clarity around your students’ needs and determine what interventions are necessary. Get meaningful and ongoing insights to plan and implement strategies that support improved student and school outcomes.
Interested in learning more? Click below to sign up for an on demand demo and receive an email with a special link to a walkthrough video that you can watch at your convenience!
Every student you have wants to feel like he or she belongs in your classroom. However, this requires time, commitment, effort, and planning on your part.
Strong student communities are characterized by the fact that all students feel comfortable, are well-behaved and are accepted. In a classroom with a strong sense of community, students feel safe and have a sense of belonging. Students feel like they can count on each other for support—academically and socially—regardless of the situation.
It is critical that all students develop trusting and enriching relationships with each other. Creating a strong sense of student community in the class is crucial for students’ well-being, learning, and personal development—both inside and outside of school. Research shows that students who attend schools with a high sense of student community are more driven and willing to take risks academically. Strong student communities also help to decrease bullying and classroom disruptions.
Students like to know what to expect when they walk into the classroom. They require structure and guidance. Take time in your week to teach students how to develop and build positive relationships with peers.
Use writing prompts to explore the idea of a community. Have students write about what community is and what it is not. Use their answers to help write classroom agreements about what it means to be a positive and productive member of the classroom community.
Have a fun introduction activity and/or celebration routine that you do every time you switch collaborative groups. Have students high-five and say “I can’t wait to work with this group”.
To build structure and promote an environment of high expectations, have a routine for when the bell rings. These could be activities such as a writing prompt, a mindful activity, or a problem to be solved on the board.
Classroom Ideas and Activities
Create a classroom agreement, constitution, or contract at the beginning of the school year. Students need to know that you have structure and rules regarding respect, trust, and safety. Students will feel a sense of community if they help make these rules.
Play games that help foster connections and similarities between students, such as The North Wind Blows or Take a Stand Icebreaker. Both activities can be found online.
Read “How Full is Your Bucket” by Tom Rath. Pick a day of the week to fill each other’s buckets with gratitude and compliments.
Classroom Environment and Set Up
Post student/teacher agreements clearly in the classroom
Have a classroom “mascot” that is unique to your class. Let the class pick the mascot. It could be a stuffed animal, statue, soccer ball, or any other object.
Create a collaborative art project that everyone participates in and that you can post in the classroom. One idea is to create a giant puzzle for which every student creates one of the pieces.
Building a collaborative, healthy classroom will take time. Some students will struggle with collaborative groups and joining activities. Work with them privately on what they can do to participate. Take baby steps with them. Learn about the introverted students and how to support them in an extroverted classroom. Most importantly, do not give up. With time, commitment, and effort, a classroom community will slowly take shape.
A strong teacher-student relationship is characterized by a positive, friendly and respectful interaction between teacher and student.
The Power of Strong Teacher-Student Relationships
Teachers set the tone of their classrooms, mentor and nurture students, and listen and look for signs of trouble. They are aware of their students’ physical needs and make sure that the classroom is an environment where students feel free to be themselves. The teacher-student relationship is at its best when students can see that what they are learning is meaningful and that they feel valued by the class community.
Developing a positive and healthy teacher-student relationship in the classroom and across the school is a key factor contributing towards student academic success and happiness. Positive teacher-student relationships help students to succeed despite potential risk factors in their lives. Classrooms where teachers and students have strong relationships often have fewer disruptive behavior. When students feel cared for, they are more likely to attend school and do well academically. Students are also more willing to ask for help as their level of trust in the teacher increases. Students should leave the classroom thinking that they are special.
Routines To Help Build Strong Relationships
Learn and use students’ names as quickly as you can at the beginning of the year.
Greet students in the halls by saying their names or give them a handshake or greeting. Let them know they are important.
Let students know when you are available each day for questions or just to talk. Build time in the day for connections.
Classroom Ideas and Activities
Before the beginning of the school year, send notes home letting the students know a little about you and that you are looking forward to having them in your classroom.
Share personal stories about your interests and funny happenings. Also, share when you have made a mistake and that you are not perfect.
Stay up-to-date with pop culture as much as possible. It can be a great way to connect with students.
Send positive postcards home throughout the year. Pre-address a set of postcards (your school registrar might be able to print address labels for you). Each week, pick a few postcards and send home a positive note.
Classroom Environment And Set Up
Create an “all about me board” in your room. Students love to know about your interests and your family. Change it up from time to time so you are continually sharing with your students things about your life. Have students create a “me board” too.
Post students’ pictures and names in the classroom. Students need to see themselves in your room, so they know that they belong.
When you have a new student join your class, have a welcome sign with the student’s name greeting him or her at the door.
Keep In Mind…
The teacher is responsible for establishing positive relationships with each student and assumes the responsibility for continuing to strengthen these relationships over time. Don’t quit on building relationships. It may take the entire year to see that your efforts are working.
And remember that students bring a lot of emotions and attitudes from home. Try to not take things personally. As long as expectations for classroom behaviors are generally being met, and no one is being offended, allow for students to vent occasionally. This could help students to feel better and could even build positive bonds between you and the students.
You’re human and will have bad days or a rough class period here and there. Therefore, it is ok to be authentic with students and tell them that you are having “one of those days.” You can use these times to model to your students how you reset and deal with adversity.
Students are often wary of seeking or getting help for cyberbullying because of fear of how their peers will respond. Creating an environment that fosters discussions around healthy digital citizenship is critical for students.
Characteristics of Cyberbullying
Today, a large part of the communication of children and youth takes place digitally, which has led to the problem of cyberbullying. Studies show that one in five students has received malicious or unpleasant messages or have had their pictures shared against their will on social media.
Many aspects of school bullying also apply to bullying in the digital world. However, cyberbullying has its own special characteristics, many of which are related to the ambiguity and anonymity of the digital world, and which raises some important questions, such as: Who is the sender of an unpleasant message, and how many people agree with it? Who posted a personal picture on social media, and how many people have seen it? Will there be more messages sent or photos posted? Who will be the next target?
Specific characteristics of digital bullying:
The identity of the bully may never be known and he or she may not see the bullying victims’ reactions, and therefore, are not affected by them.
Bullying can take place at any time of the day, and one cannot seek security and peace of home. It is impossible for the bully victim to escape the bullying.
The number of people who view or participate in bullying on social media is often unknown and potentially many. Messages about the victim can be quickly published and can circulate in the media for a long time.
Cyberbullying may not be noticeable to adults.
What Can You Do To Prevent Cyberbullying
Students are often wary of seeking or getting help for cyberbullying because of fear of how their parents will respond. Many students fear that if they report that they are victims of cyberbullying, their parents will take away their devices and specific apps. Students often know that they can block, ignore, and report a cyberbully but will often not do so because of the fear of missing out (FOMO).
There is also a significant amount of fear around peer retaliation and being called a “snitch.” Creating a safe environment in school where you can talk about healthy digital citizenship and ways to stand up against cyberbullying are critical for students. Adults need to respond quickly and consistently when hearing about situations of cyberbullying. Partner with parents in your school to address digital citizenship and cyberbullying.
Student Check-In Questions
Use the following questions to lead classroom discussion or writing activities about digital citizenship:
How often do you receive unpleasant messages on your phone, tablet, or computer?
How often do you think about other peoples’ feelings before sharing things online?
Do you think cyberbullying is a problem in our class? school?
In the past month, how often have people said mean things to you online?
How often do other students at your school use the Internet to spread mean rumors about you?
How often do other students use their phones to spread mean rumors about you?
How often do you use the Internet to spread mean rumors about other students?
How often do you use your phone to spread mean rumors about other students?
Classroom Ideas and Activities
Remind students that you are a safe person to talk to. Let them know ahead of time about your expectations regarding confidentiality and how you will respond to certain situation. Teaching them the difference between “tattling”(to get someone in trouble) and “telling” (to get help for self or others) is crucial.
Have students create a wall of good digital citizenship ideas and/or what to do if you are being cyberbullied.
Routinely send out tips and conversation starters to parents about digital citizenship, especially after discussing it in class.