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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #190

The Dialogic Learning Weekly #190
Hi everyone and welcome to the 190th issue of this Friday newsletter. I hope that you are well. Welcome to the new subscribers, great to have you join us. Over 2800 subscribers enjoy this weekly newsletter.
Today the throughline is wellbeing. Let’s get into it.

Mental Health Crisis for Parents
To begin I want to share some information about the impact of pandemic related restrictions on families. The data and research shared below are from the US, and specific regions, so we have to keep that in mind when reflecting on what it means.
Here are a couple of highlights:
  • 63 percent of parents said they felt they had lost emotional support during the pandemic. (University of Oregon, RAPID-EC)
  • In April and May, parents with children at home under 18 were markedly more stressed than non-parents. (American Psychological Association)
  • 61 percent of parents of 5, 6 and 7 year olds in Massachusetts agreed or strongly agreed that they felt “nervous, anxious, or on edge” because of the pandemic. (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
It is vital to keep in mind there has been a significantly varied experience of lockdown restrictions across the world. This has also been true within different states within Australia. Whenever we emerge (if we do) from this era, perceptions and experiences will be vastly different.
Whereas schools in Adelaide only closed for a few weeks, the disruption in education to Victorian students, teachers and families is still going. I am still not sure when my son will return to onsite learning.
You might be thinking that is stating the obvious, but it is worth noting the long term impact on wellbeing is likely to be massively varied. Consequently it is important to think critically about any sweeping commentary about the effects of collective pandemic trauma.
We might compare the US data on families with some of the research provided in this report by the ABC:
I think, overall, if you compare Australia’s experience with other countries such as the US and the UK, I’d argue the core story is a positive one. The big story is the enduring willingness of Australians to comply with best practice to responding to a pandemic … whether that’s complying with restrictions and doing whatever it takes to help their fellow Australian.
The Pandemic Is a ‘Mental Health Crisis’ for Parents - The New York Times
Student Health and Wellbeing Impact
I noticed today that the Evidence for Learning group in Australia had published a new report in partnership with the Australian Council for Educational Research and VIC Health, exploring the impact of wellbeing programmes.
The global meta-analytical review explored the research (75 studies) regarding the effects of school-based wellbeing interventions on student academic achievement. It was guided by the following research question:
How effective are school-based wellbeing interventions for improving the academic and non-academic outcomes of children and young people in mainstream schools?
The report highlights five key messages:
  • Wellbeing interventions make a difference to student outcomes
  • Everything that schools do to support student wellbeing counts but some are more effective than others
  • To impact academic outcomes, longer programs need to be sustained
  • Disadvantaged students benefit most from tailored support
  • We need more robust evidence in Australia about program impact to identify features of effective implementation.
Looking back across those “key” messages, I would say two or three sound like common sense. Point two for example, sure everything has an impact and yes some are more effective. To clarify, the report goes on to explain the impact as:
Overall students in the interventions were up to +4 months ahead in learning compared to students in the control groups.
What questions does that make you think of?
The last three “key findings” seem to suggest specific design traits we can pay attention to:
longer programmes, sustained implementation, tailored support for the most disadvantaged students.
Although some of you may argue they are simply characteristics of good design.
I would encourage you to have a look at the link, report and infographic below to dig deeper into the impact they recognise in their analysis. Perhaps use the key ideas as provocations for the design of your own school based programmes.
E4L Wellbeing Systematic Review infographic 5.0
E4L Wellbeing Systematic Review infographic 5.0
Student Health and Wellbeing | Evidence for Learning
Mr Men Wellbeing
To end on a very practical note, I spotted on Twitter this thinking routine on wellbeing for a Year 4 class. It is shared by Alex Wigley a Year 4 teacher at Cotgrave Candleby Lane School, in Nottinghamshire, in the UK.
I thought using the Mr Men characters provided a lovely safe space to discuss their characteristics, traits and wellbeing. The characters were a proxy for some of the feelings they might have. You can imagine developing this further with other characters from other stories or films.
The Diamond 9 activity is a thinking routine for sorting, ordering and prioritising. It asks participants to order the artefacts from lowest to highest, representing them in a diamond shape allows some comparison and similarities to exist.
I am not surprised to hear that the quality of conversation and dialogue from the students was high. I would love to have overheard some of the chat. Thanks for sharing Alex!
(If you like this little idea, be sure to follow the link to the Tweet and share your appreciation and thanks directly with Alex)
Alex Wigley
I loved this lesson with Year 4 this week, where they discussed which Mr Men character they thought had the best wellbeing and created a diamond nine to showcase it. The quality of their conversation was unbelievable. #wellbeingmatters
We have had our first groups of teachers actively participating in our online course on the SOLO Taxonomy. It is great to see cohorts of educators and groups from schools getting in touch to set up a little community and learn together.
Drop me a note if you are interested in finding out how to enrol a group in the course, so you can learn together.
Thanks for joining me this week for a newsletter focused on being well. I hope you are, where ever you may be. Just reply to share how things are going for you, and to let me know what resonates.
In dialogue we trust.
~ Tom Barrett
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Tom Barrett from Dialogic Learning

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