Bonding with students

Teachers introduce new activities to spur classroom discussion on wellness.

Two months after Diamond Bar High School teachers gathered for the Social-Emotional Council meeting at the Walnut Unified School District to discuss new ways to improve students’ mental health, some teachers have implemented the methods into their classrooms.

At the meeting, math teacher Maureen Baiz, suggested that teachers could write positive messages to a different student every day and be watchful of their students’ behavior.

“When I see a student in distress, I talk to them about some mindful practices such as deep breathing and by [allowing] them to cope with situations that are very difficult,” she said. “I try to give my students positive affirmations every day, just so that they know that I care about them and that they all have great hearts and they need to be proud of themselves.”

Baiz also said that she has seen significant changes in her classroom’s environment after she utilized her strategies to help her students.

“I just think the relationship that you can form between students is immeasurable,” she said. “Just the fact that they’re able to feel close enough and have a positive relationship with you and me as a teacher just surpassed my expectations and all my goals for the year.”

Dawn Daza has also used tips from the meeting. She implemented a mood meter system into her Advanced Placement Statistics class, doing an M&M activity where students use M&Ms to indicate their current mood in the classroom.

“I wouldn’t say there are specific changes to [student behavior], but overall, [the activity] gives students a sense of respect in the classroom,” Daza said.

Some students found that the activities offered by the teachers have made a beneficial impact on behavior. A few have become comfortable with being more open about their feelings toward their teachers.

 “[The mood meters] are helpful because I believe it could just give us a good break from the class so we could reflect on our feelings,” senior Katherine Chang, one of Daza’s students, said. “I think it’s brought changes to some of my peers who seem to be really stressed.”

Overall, students have shared positive results from the activity, and many teachers hope to continue activities to support their students.

“I think that having all teachers [participate] has changed the climate of our staff and the relationship with our students,” Baiz said. “One big thing is that I think most of us have [worked as teachers] so that we can impact our students in a positive way.”