Blog Enhancing Student Wellbeing with 21st Century Education Technology By Peter Cottle Enhancing the Student Learning Journey At the core of education is the importance of maintaining and supporting the wellbeing of students. This means having the pastoral needs and wellbeing of each student at the forefront. A well-considered and broadly encompassing school pastoral care approach can provide a strong foundation for student engagement and academic achievement. It can also help develop resilience in students, promote independence in their learning, and make them feel connected. The ‘biological server’ An integral part of a school pastoral care approach is the ability to develop and maintain a quick and simple record keeping structure. Historically, educators are highly skilled at being able to absorb and retain a mass of pastoral information (behavioural, learning, observational) about each child in their class. They do this by developing a ‘biological server’ which allows them to organise, access, and recall key information. This information is then used to help maximise student engagement and learning. However, as the landscape of education changes and we step deeper into the 21st century where contemporary skills develop at a considerable rate, this biological server begins to approach capacity. A point emphasised further when you consider that each member within a school team finds themselves interacting with up to 500 students, not merely the 20 and 30 in their class. Schoolbox, an all-in-one Learning Management System (LMS), community portal and engagement platform, includes a dedicated Pastoral Care Module to address this specific challenge. Schoolbox Pastoral Care Module In an education setting, educators find themselves receiving a variety of information relating to students at various times during the day. The conveyance of this important information may be at the least favourable time for teachers – during a busy lunch time, in between meetings or moving from class to class. Therefore it is important to have a well thought out approach to how and where student pastoral data is maintained. The Pastoral Care solution from Schoolbox recognises the importance of organising and managing all this data and at the same time provides staff with ownership over it. Schoolbox offers an integrated module that allows for the creation and organisation of pastoral care records, and importantly, the retrieval of reports for teachers and pastoral care leaders. So, what does the Pastoral Care Module in Schoolbox look like? Customisation The Schoolbox Pastoral Care Module provides a secure record keeping tool within which all staff members can document General or Confidential information about a student. What sets it apart however is the customisable aspect to suit each school context. Schools are able to design a ‘form’ in a way that matches the behaviour management and student wellbeing policies of their school. This is done by creating options relating to the following: Type: the Behaviour that is to be addressed, may be negative or positive, for instance Bullying, Award, Learning or Injury. Sub-type: enables further classification to provide context. For instance, if the Behaviour Type is Bullying than Sub-type can be Physical, Verbal or Cyberbullying. Severity: classifies the level of Behaviour, for instance Low, Medium, High or Critical. Tags: provides the capability to attach the relevant group, for instance Year Level or Class Group. Example of dropdown menu When a staff member has a note to record about a student, they move through these dropdown fields and then have the option of inputting a short Pastoral note. Relevant documents such as images, PDFs of emails, links to other areas within Schoolbox can also be attached. The power of these customised fields allow navigation to be seamless. Once in the pastoral profile of a student, a staff member can easily filter records by Type and obtain the information required to assist the student in their learning journey. This can be particularly helpful when for example, a staff member is interacting with a student outside of the classroom, unaware of the fact there is a history to the behaviour they should be aware of. A quick glance at their Profile page will give them quick access to their Pastoral records or even a behavioural plan that may be in place. Search Function in Pastoral Care Module With the system provided by Schoolbox, the ‘Behaviour’ type in the filter field enables teachers to quickly locate relevant records and adapt their approach in a way that best serves the wellbeing needs of that specific student. This capability enables agility when dealing with any student in a range of different contexts. Engaging the entire school community The Pastoral Care Module in Schoolbox provides the ability to select visibility of each and every record. To do this, the teacher or school representative creating the record selects those they wish to assign including specific staff members, wellbeing focused groups (ie Student Support Group), and, if relevant, the student’s parents (in place of the more traditional Student Diary). Select role to share Pastoral Record Any of the attached members then receive a clickable notification allowing them to quickly access the record in question without any further complications. This method of communication promotes a clear line of positive dialogue between each person within the school community who is connected with the student. It may also help encourage the child to talk about their own wellbeing, knowing that adults have taken the time to understand and learn about their individual journey. Accessibility and ownership Often important information about a specific child can be found hiding in a cluttered email inbox or more worryingly, a physical document not accessible to all who require it. This lack of central access to important student wellbeing data has been highlighted as a consequence of the extended periods of home learning being experienced. With the Pastoral Care Module in Schoolbox, this information can be effectively captured, recorded and made accessible in one central location. A teacher can use the search function in Schoolbox to locate a student and pull up their profile. Within this profile lies the historical pastoral care records that are required to support this specific student in that moment. This process develops autonomy and ownership for each staff member, and helps them to approach all situations feeling informed. Example of Student Pastoral Care Record Responding to the pressures of a learning environment Schoolbox understands the time pressures that comes with a need to access student records quickly, particularly in a busy learning environment. If a child comes in from play and is visibly distressed, the priority is for the teacher to be able to communicate with them and support them emotionally. However, as is often the case, this student could be less inclined to share when emotions are heightened. A quick search of the Pastoral Care Module in Schoolbox can provide the teacher with further insight into the reason for the student response. For instance, a perusal of the student’s Pastoral Care records may show an incident that took place that lunchtime. This information can then be used to restore the child’s wellbeing and help them re-engage in their learning for the remainder of the day. Pastoral Care Report by Year Level Schoolbox is committed to providing tools which support student wellbeing and learning as we understand that student wellbeing often informs academic performance. A tool like the Pastoral Care Module then, allows schools to streamline and simplify the process of collecting and storing important information related to each student’s wellbeing. Find out how Schoolbox can assist implementing the Pastoral Care Module for your school, contact us today. Peter Cottle is an educator and e-learning specialist with over 13 years experience in K–12 schools. A passionate advocate of learning design underpinned by Universal Design for Learning approaches, Peter is a Territory Manager at Schoolbox and is continuously looking for ways to enhance the learning experience of all learners.