My original Problem of Practice was… How might we use the product of a unit on mental health to make contributions within the ESA community?
I created a survey for the students of ESA to take. They responded to the following statements with either YES, NO or NOT SURE.
- Anyone can have a mental illness.
- Females are more likely to have a mental illness than males.
- You can tell by looking at someone that they have a mental illness.
- People with mental illness are angry and violent.
- If I had a mental illness I would be embarrassed.
- If I thought I had a mental health issue I would talk to someone about it.
There were 134 responses and you can see the results here.
My classes analyzed the results looking for trends, outliers, etc. They looked at articles, statistics and videos about views of mental illness in the US and other cultures and compared that information to views at ESA. In general, the classes came to the conclusion that there isn’t a lot of negative stigma at ESA, but there was still some misinformation. So the class decided to make informative posters to provide the ESA community with the facts.
I feel like students learned some important information about mental illness and how prevalent it is. In both classes, unplanned discussions about how mental illness has affected all of our lives allowed students (and myself) the chance to talk about mental health in an authentic way… and one that made us closer as a classroom community.
This was the first time I had taught this curriculum and that turned out to be my biggest challenge. Creating a curriculum with activities outside of the typical science experiment-lab report is not easy. I underestimated the time and coordination it would take to have my students create lesson plans and actually teach them during advisory.
My biggest issue was that I didn’t have time to assess the impact on the audience. I did actually see people stopping and looking at the posters, but ideally I could’ve quantified this by sending another survey asking how many had seen and read them and something learned.
As someone who stopped and read the posters, I loved that they made student voices and mental health issues visible in the hallways! I also think it’s cool that the project led to the formation of such a close classroom community. It seems like there were some strong personal authenticity strands in the project as well!
In reflecting on my work this semester, I also struggled with wanting to have a better measure of the impact of my work (this is something I often struggle with in teaching!). Some things I’m thinking about trying next semester are some sort of authenticity focused pre and post survey and/or interviewing some students. Maybe we can plan some of that out together!
What an important topic to learn about and the best part of the course is that they were able to learn more to help themselves and others. I find sometimes as teachers we create these goals which can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes unnecessary. The great thing about writing our own curriculum is that we should be able to revise as we go. The posters are a huge contribution to the community and a way to help people who may not seek wealth. I also think you can make an information slide for Town Meeting and have a student present that. Either way sounds like overall the class was a win!!