The Department of Education (DepEd) Psychosocial Support Activity Pack for Teachers (Kinder, Grades 1-3, and Senior High School) provides guidance for teachers to conduct psychosocial support activities for learners, in line with the implementation of in-person classes for School Year 2022-2023.
This packet is designed to bridge healthy socio-emotional well-being (achieved through offering psychosocial support) to academic performance, and hence can be used beyond the timeline for pilot implementation of limited face-to-face learning modality.
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Psychosocial Support Activity Pack for Teachers
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic crisis’ effects are not limited to physical health-related concerns but are also significantly affecting the mental health and wellbeing of both adults and children worldwide. One of the sectors severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is the education sector, due to the inevitable closure of schools. For almost a year, education was implemented through a distance learning modality and throughout this period, learners and personnel did not have physical interactions with friends and teachers.
In the return to face-to-face classes, teachers and school personnel will be welcoming back children with diverse experiences of the effects of the pandemic. For some, prolonged isolation and interruption of social life may have caused high stress and psychological consequences. Others may have experienced violence and neglect. Children coming from low-income families became most vulnerable to the economic consequences of the pandemic. Dealing with the diverse effects of the pandemic, teachers and school personnel must meet the children where they are, and support their health and wellbeing as they return to in-person classroom learning. An experience of crisis can put an individual temporarily out of balance. Therefore, restoration of normalcy through the return to school after a crisis is a phase that can play a crucial role in a child’s mental wellbeing.
In times of crisis, the education community must come together to ensure learning continuity and protect the right of every child to education. The provision of mental health and psychosocial support services is essential to ensure that children can access opportunities for healing, a recovery. Hence, the Department of Education, through the Disaster Risk Reduction a Management Service (DRRMS) together with MAGIS Creative Spaces, Inc., developed a Psychosocial Support Activity Pack for Teachers (Kinder, Grades 1-3, and Senior High School) to use as a guide in conducting psychosocial support activities in the classroom. Through the conduct of psychosocial activities in the classroom, teachers and school personnel can build a nurturing school environment that supports both the learning and the healing of the child.
In this guide, you will find a handful of play and arts-based psychosocial support (PSS) activities that have been thoughtfully designed to help students confidently say, I AM, I HAVE, and I CAN even as we consistently have to adjust to changing circumstances and take extra care to remain safe. These activities are meant to enrich the students’ well-being and socio-emotional and cognitive/academic development.
How to Use the Psychosocial Support Activity Pack for Teachers
This packet is designed to bridge healthy socio-emotional wellbeing (achieved through offering psychosocial support) to academic performance. When students feel supported in school by compassionate adults/teachers and their peers, they can perform well even in difficult times. This school year students are adjusting back to face-to-face classes. Their arrival may come with excitement to be back in school, and an adjustment to face-to-face learning and safety protocols; but it can also come with difficult feelings: anxiety, fear, anger, worry, and sadness. Your role as a teacher is crucial in creating an atmosphere among your students of safety, calm, empathy, and confidence. When conducting psychosocial support activities, your role is not to teach, but to be a companion to your students by being present and attuned to what emotions they are bringing back from home during this time of the pandemic. Through these activities, we are hoping you can create a classroom where both healing and learning thrive.
The packet is divided into three parts: I Am, I Can, and I Have, in order to develop specific psychosocial support skills. They are meant to be used in that order – to build on safety, self-awareness, and self-regulation first, and then move on to a deeper exploration of the self, community, and community resources.
An annex is also provided with additional energizers and transitional activities to support your students’ socio-emotional wellbeing and academic performance. You will also find other templates to use for creating your own activities as well as some other frequently asked questions (FAQs) in using play and arts-based approaches for psychosocial support.
What to Do
- Since this packet is designed to offer you activities to support the well-being of your learners, the first step would be to create an environment that welcomes all the emotions that they bring with them from their time at home during this pandemic. Assess (see The Guide to Learning the Emotional Language of Your Learners, p.xii) whether they might be receptive to the activities identified, and then choose the activity that would be helpful to hold a space to either ground or calm your class, or energize them.
- There is a list of grounding exercises and energizers in the Annex to help you get started. Basic exercise activities such as running in place, jumping jacks, and arm rolls are all good starters to get the stress out. End with three breaths to ground everyone back to their seats.
- After you’ve used the activities, know that it’s okay to repeat them. Repetition and consistency over time build up a child’s socio-emotional strength and creates a culture of caring and acceptance in the classroom.
- It’s best to continue doing psychosocial support activities throughout the year as this will boost your learners’ academic performance as well.
- Feel free to modify activities to adapt them to your specific culture and dialect.
- Accommodations for children with special needs: if you have learners with special needs in your class, individual work can be done in pairs so that a regular learner can be paired with a special needs learner.
- Create safety and classroom guidelines. Remind them every session.
- Focus on your learner’s strengths and inner resources.
- Use whatever materials are available to you
- Appreciate whatever is made by the learner. Thank them for their creativity and engagement (whatever way they engaged — as an observer, as a creator, as a sharer)
- Think outside the box. Materials from the natural environment may be used for art and other psychosocial support activities.
What Not to Do
- When learners do not want to do a psychosocial support activity, encourage them, but don’t force them. If you have a “quiet” or “peace” corner in your room with books and coloring supplies, they can stay there and try other activities until they’re ready to join.
- Do not teach the learners how to create, since this is not an art class, but a psychosocial support activity, instead:
- Provide them with a space to let their creativity flow
- Encourage them if they are having difficulty (i.e., start with a line, simple tapping of the toes or nodding of the head)
- Do not force learners to create
- Instead, meet them where they are at.
- Take note of these learners and check in with them individually from a curious, compassionate standpoint
- Do not judge artworks as good or bad
- Instead, be curious about their work and what they want to communicate through it
- Do not analyze or interpret their work
- Instead, allow them to be the masters of their creations