Make Students Feel Valued

In the wake of the post-COVID-19 pandemic world, we are witnessing a surge in stress and anxiety among our students. It is imperative that we as school leaders are dedicated to implementing strategies that have been proven by research to enhance students' mental health, emotional well-being and academic success.

A nurturing and supportive school environment plays a crucial role in equipping children and adolescents with the necessary skills to recognize and manage their emotions, set and accomplish positive goals, empathize with others, foster healthy relationships and make informed decisions.

The concept of school connectedness epitomizes students' perception that both their peers and adults within the school community genuinely care about their individual welfare and academic advancement. Students who feel a strong sense of connection to their school are less inclined to engage in such risky behaviors  as substance abuse, and are more likely to adopt positive health practices like regular physical activity and healthy eating habits, exhibit higher academic performance, demonstrate better attendance records and, ultimately, are more likely to graduate.

To fortify school connectedness and cultivate a supportive school environment conducive to mental health, we propose the following measures:

  • Professional Development on Classroom Management: Offer training sessions focused on effective classroom management techniques such as reinforcing positive behaviors through acknowledgment and establishing clear rules, routines and expectations. These approaches foster a sense of belonging and connection among students. 
  • Supporting Student-Led Clubs: Encourage the formation and support of student-led clubs within the school. These clubs provide a safe haven for students to socialize, extend support to one another and establish connections with caring members of the school staff.
  • Facilitating Positive Youth Development Activities: Implement initiatives such as mentoring programs, community volunteering opportunities or linking students with external community-based programs. These endeavors create a network of supportive adults around the students, fostering a sense of belonging and well-being.
  • Providing Resources for Parents and Families: Equip parents and families with resources that promote positive parenting practices, including fostering open and honest communication with their children and maintaining active parental supervision.

By collectively embracing these strategies, we can create an educational environment where every student feels valued, supported and empowered to thrive academically, emotionally and socially.

Photo Credit: SAMHSA Toolkit