Students link emotional wellbeing to learning

Issue: Volume 97, Number 16

Posted: 5 September 2018
Reference #: 1H9kY9

Key factors for a successful experience in education are good teachers, a supportive and involved family and having friends, students say.

Earlier this year, a report looking at the emotional wellbeing of students was released as part of the ‘Education matters to me’ series.

The survey, a joint initiative by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) and the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA), sought to examine how students feel about education in New Zealand.

“We know that when children and young people are happy and feel like they belong, they learn better,” the report says.

By surveying 1,678 students, researchers were able to establish nine key findings on how emotional wellbeing impacts on students’ learning. These findings were:

  1. My friends are my go-to.
  2. I need my teacher to respect me.
  3. I need my teacher to recognise I have a disability that affects the way I learn best.
  4. My physical space impacts on my learning.
  5. I want to be comfortable in what I wear.
  6. How I’m feeling impacts how I’m learning.
  7. When bullying happens, I need to know you’ll deal with it and I’ll be kept safe.
  8. My social needs – preparing and sharing kai.
  9. Accept me.

The report highlights the importance of children and young people feeling they belong and having trusting relationships with their teachers.

What students are saying…

“My mum and teacher helped me make friends when I first started school because Mum asked the teacher if there was someone scared like me and that’s when she said there was a kid called A… and we are still friends up till today.” (Primary school student, Māori/Japanese)

“Better relationships between teacher, parents and children.” (Secondary school student, Samoan)

[What helps you achieve at school?] “Being around good people like good friends and teachers who are cool instead of being d***s all the time and making me feel like I shouldn’t be in class. There are some classes I enjoy so I try hard to attend and to achieve in them, but other classes I don’t care.” (Student in secondary school, Māori)

“To feel good about going back to school, the school and teachers would need to be warm, friendly, caring, helpful and believe in me…But they need to be consistent.” (Student in alternative education, Māori)

“Good teachers, teachers who are helpful, they make the difference between me achieving and failing.” (Student in alternative education, Māori)

“The teacher you have is very important. For every child a good teacher means something different. For me, I like teachers who are more structured and who want me to learn. I was still bored in some classes, but the good teachers taught me the process and structure like writing an introduction, middle and end rather sending me off to simply write something.” (Home-schooled student, undisclosed ethnicity)

“We only have one unisex toilet in the gym, but we need more than one in the school. We should also have a Q&A to help the students and teachers understand more about sexuality and gender.” (Secondary school student, NZ European)

“I don’t feel comfortable in the gendered uniform … I think mufti would be preferred, because everyone would be comfortable, but if a uniform is required, have a non-gendered one. I think our principal is old fashioned with this stuff, and LGBTQ+ stuff in general, because even the formal only just allowed same-sex couples. We need to catch up.” (Secondary school student, non-binary, NZ European)

[What makes a good teacher?] “They are friendly, they greet you in the morning and are happy to see you.”  (Primary school student, undisclosed ethnicity) 

Resources for schools

Read the full report Education matters to me: Emotional wellbeing(external link) 

The Wellbeing@School student survey is a free resource that is a great way to find out what students at your school really think. The survey and other tools on the website(external link) should be used as part of a self-review cycle. 

The Teaching for Positive Behaviour resource is a tool that teachers can use to strengthen their teaching practices. Copies of Teaching for Positive Behaviour can be ordered from link) or can be downloaded online via link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 1:46 pm, 5 September 2018

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