Emotions as a Way to Connect

As we return from winter break, we hope that everyone feels rested and restored. Last year at this time, we posted a blog with ways to help teachers with Getting Back into Routines After Winter Break (click the link to read if you would like more information about this), so this year, we are going to focus on what our learners sometimes need when they are returning from long breaks. Many emotions are felt by our students when they return, often they are exhausted or feeling like they are out of their routine or just incredibly excited to be back on campus! Whatever our students are feeling when they arrive, connecting with those emotions by recognizing and validating the feelings they have can be a powerful way to connect and build a positive learning community.

Recognizing Emotions

How powerful would it be if we could understand what our students are feeling, communicate with them about it and move forward in a positive and productive direction. When we recognize the emotions that our students are feeling whether they are positive or negative emotions, people feel validated and understood. I am not saying that this has to be an in-depth conversation. Recognizing emotions can be as simple as saying, “I notice that you might be feeling _______, do you want to talk about it?”

Recognizing things like facial expressions, body language, change in tone of voice and changes in personality can all help us understand how our students are feeling.

Responding to Emotions

Once emotions are recognized, we can then move forward and respond to them by helping make sure that our students feel supported and cared for. When we respond to emotions, we are showing that we care about the mindfulness and wellness of our students. This will, of course, look different for everyone because the way that we respond will vary based on our own personalities.

Showing zest and optimism can be a powerful way to let our students know that we are excited to be spending the day with them.

Communicating About Emotions

We all have those times when we don’t want to talk or feel a bit reclusive. This is no different for our students. I am sure that we all have students who do not want to share during trust circles or when they are feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, it can be effective to change the way that we communicate in these situations. When we offer alternative methods of communication – like drawing a picture, using emojis or writing a letter – we are letting our students know that we respect how they are feeling and we are here to support them in building character strengths so that their emotions do not create unnecessary conflict.


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Trust circles are a great time to hear how students feel, students who do not want to share may choose to show an emoji or a picture describing a particular topic.

We hope that everyone has a great first week back with their students! We are excited to see you all back for the start of 2019!

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