Dionne Ballantyne

Primary Teacher

Stane Primary

  • Health & Wellbeing

What Happens When you Introduce a Personal Reflective Journal to the Classroom?

Rationale

This enquiry arises from my experience during my probation year. My class have various additional support needs alongside children dealing with a variety of adverse childhood experiences. I found the class struggle to transition from lunch into afternoon learning; this particular section of the day often negatively impacts the overall ethos of the classroom. Transitions can be disruptive and difficult for children; in particular those with additional support needs. This can also impact children that do not deal well with change (Stobart, n.d.). Managing transitions is key in maintaining strong classroom management which in turn, reduces the likelihood of difficult or challenging behaviour and allows effective teaching and learning (The Welsh Assembly Government, 2006). Teaching in this environment can often be tricky; full teaching and learning potential is not always met due to lack of concentration from pupils, in class participation and pupils listening skills are often adversely effected.

The Scottish Government has a key focus on health and wellbeing which is highlighted in publications, one being the SHANARRI indicator following from the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach. GIRFEC ensures that each child is allowed to feel loved, safe and respected both in and out of school. SHANARRI states that each child should be safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included. These can also be linked to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), and assisting us as educators to support children that have a diverse range of needs.

I have chosen to combine a health and wellbeing technique with transitions between lunch and afternoon learning. I introduced mindfulness into the classroom through a personal reflective journal. I hope this will have a positive effect on the children and increase engagement, concentration, participation and improvement of listening skills during this section of the school day. I expect this to benefit pupils with additional support or emotional needs as I think the personal form of expression will improve the mental health. Mindfulness can help soothe a variety of issues including self-awareness, self-regulation, behaviour, attention, stress reduction and emotion –issues that are addressed through the Curriculum for Excellence and the Experiences and Outcomes set by the Scottish Government (Britton et al., 2014; Greenberg and Harris, 2012; MLERN et al., 2012)

Aims

The aim of the enquiry was to explore the correlation between mindfulness in the classroom as a transition technique, and reflect upon the change in both pupil enthusiasm, quality of work, ethos and atmosphere of the classroom. Within the subject class pupils present with a wide range of abilities and behaviours which can impact negatively on learning and teaching and the classroom environment, in avertedly impacting on peers learning experience. The personal reflective journal will be implemented over a four week period. I anticipate it will have a positive effect on focus and the ethos of the classroom.

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