WVUSD discusses ways to improve mental health

In order to improve the emotional health of their students, 10 Diamond Bar High School teachers attended the Social-Emotional Council at the Walnut Valley Unified School District office on Aug. 29.

The meeting, with the theme of “Mission Possible,” covered topics such as how to increase social and emotional learning in the classroom and across campus and how to provide students with resources beyond the Wellness Center to allow them to talk to an adult if they were in a bad mental state. 

According to English teacher and social-emotional learning committee member Ces’Ari Delmuro, one of the attendees, the theme represents the idea that tending to social-emotional needs does not have to be a daunting task.

“There’s small, easy changes that we could make to make our classrooms more open to social-emotional learning,” she said.

Prior to the meeting, Delmuro would give her students a chance to refresh their minds through meditation and brain breaks, the latter of which was a strategy the SEL committee discussed. Brain breaks last between three and five minutes and occur 15 to 20 minutes after an instruction was issued.

“If we could give you, as a student, brain breaks here and there, it actually lets you be able to refocus rather than sit there zoned out for a really long time,” Delmuro said.

Before attending the meeting, science teacher Jazmine Silver gave students breaks throughout class and greeted them at the door. She decided to go to the meeting since she was interested in learning how she could further improve the social and emotional state of her class.

“I do feel like students have a different area that we’re kind of missing sometimes at this school with regards to the emotion or social aspect, so I figured I’d join,” Silver said.

The event gave her a chance to interact with her coworkers and share ideas about activities that keep track of social and emotional health. For instance, she uses a mood meter daily to measure how her students are feeling. With the chart by the door, she would ask her students to evaluate their feelings as soon as they walk into class.

The mood meter contains four colors: red, yellow, blue and green. Red represents high energy and unpleasant feelings, and yellow represents pleasant feelings and high energy. Blue represents low energy and unpleasant feelings, while green represents pleasant feelings but low energy.

“If they’re kind of blue, they’re not ready to learn,” she said. “I’d know to not call on that student, to not ask them to do more than they’re ready to do in the class. Then, if it’s consistent, we have a different discussion.”

Silver feels that more people need to be aware of their feelings in order to realize that social and emotional health correlates to quality of learning.

“I think it’s hard to articulate or talk to people about how you feel or even realize that if you’re down, you’re not ready to learn,” she said. “I think for me, social and emotional learning as a teacher is being aware of students and their emotions and how it affects the classroom.”