It’s often the case that students seek out younger teachers to confide in, as they feel they may be able to relate to them better. Often these young teachers, are also new teachers, so here are a few tips that I’ve picked up from being involved in student wellbeing for over fifteen years.
1-NEVER promise to keep what a student tells you a secret.
If there is a welfare or legal concern, teachers are legally bound to report it. Students should be aware of this from the outset. If after telling a student this, they choose not to speak to you, immediately refer it to a senior member of staff and/or the school counselor.
2-Don’t feel you have to solve the problem on your own.
Encourage the student to engage with the school counselor, talk to their parents. They obviously feel comfortable speaking with you, so offer to be there with them when they speak to the counselor.
3-Keep an account of what you discuss with the student.
Bullet points are fine, and emails to the counselor serve the same purpose.
4-Report to a senior member of staff.
If the issue is not serious enough to warrant involvement from senior staff, it’s still a good idea to keep a senior member of staff in the loop. That way, they can help guide you as to the next step and may be able to spot if the situation is escalating.
5-Improve your knowledge of the wellbeing issues of young people.
Get along to a Generation Next seminar. They are one-stop shops for all the issues your students are dealing with right now.
Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, writer and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminar at the Gold Coast. He writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at @danhaesler