This semester I’m teaching a Human Behavior Elective for the first time. The content is interesting to me and I love planning new curricula (seriously, I really do!) so I am excited about this opportunity. With that said, because I haven’t taught it before, there is a lot of room for movement in planning. My overall goals with the class are to provide students a basic introductory psychology content base, have them look at psychology through a science lens, and incorporate as many interesting activities as possible to help build student skills in research, the scientific method, and using evidence. See my curriculum map here.
In the core science classes I’ve taught, authenticity to the discipline comes fairly naturally, because students are actually “doing science” by repeating the scientific method as any scientist would do. As a department, though, we struggle with helping students make a contribution to the world in an authentic way. ESA science students aren’t really discovering any new information in the world of science, so our focus this semester is more about how the product of our students’ work will contribute to some community.
When I originally started brainstorming for the Human Behavior class, I spoke to Jenny McCue, ESA’s social worker and all-around amazing lady, about any ideas she had for a unit on mental health. We came up with the idea that my students could teach advisory lessons about mental health with the intent to de-stigmatize mental illness in the school community. I thought the idea was incredible, but still hadn’t formulated exactly how it would look in my head when we started this department work on authenticity. I think this idea lends itself perfectly to the goal of authentic audience.
So the question I’m looking at is How might we use the product of a unit on mental health to make contributions within the ESA community?
I think a great place to implement this would be in our advisory curriculum, with Human Behavior students presenting in either their own advisory or others. What I’m still questioning is what will that product be? I’ve considered having them create a lesson plan, but I’m not anywhere near the planning phase, so am open to any ideas!
This is such a great idea. What about profiling celebs or public figures our students would recognize that are open about their struggles and triumphs with mental health? So many strong, influential people have come out and been open about their life and processes with mental health. Maybe thats a good place to start. Then you can educate on how mental health plays a role in our school and our students day to day.
Cristie, this is perfect timing – my advisory just spent an entire advisory period last week speaking about the stigma that comes along with sharing mental wellness struggles with their friends and families! They spoke candidly about feeling misunderstood by their parents and judged by their peers, and then shared with the group that those experiences made them close up even more about their mental well being struggles. The transition they are experiencing going from 9/10 courses to more difficult 11/12 courses, they are feeling the strain academically as well as socially trying to balance the different priorities in their lives.
I wonder if the product doesn’t even have to be something as complete or clean as an advisory lesson. I’m thinking about what could be beneficial for my kiddos to hear about this juncture in their lives and found myself with these ideas: maybe
a.) a mini documentary, a short video, or a slide with anonymous quotes about the struggles of maintaining good mental health and the real fears that ESA kids have around sharing their struggles to be included in a town meeting
b.) using the quotes from the TM slide and including that with a poem or short story about feeling isolated/alone/nervous in the literary magazine that Jane is creating with the kids
c.) creating some kind of interactive wall art which allows for people to anonymously contribute with their own stories of mental well being struggles along with what they do to cope and deal with their struggles
I think raising awareness around the prevalence of mental wellness struggles could be hugely beneficial in helping our kids know they are not alone and that it’s not something to be ashamed of.
Cristie – I had no idea you were teaching this course, so I’m really happy I read your blog! I feel so strongly about de-stigmatizing mental health issues. I think that this is an awesome opportunity to help students realize that they are not alone in their particular mental health battles. I love Pearl’s idea about the anonymous “wall” and think it’s a great, low-risk way for students to see that our struggles may be different, but we all have them. Maybe there could be a separate “teacher wall” where we do the same thing. I also think David’s idea to profile public figures is awesome – Jenny and Caitlin did a TOW about Kevin Love’s struggle with mental health issues, and many of the students really connected with it.