Erin currently works with students who have mild to moderate learning needs.
“I’ve taught a lot of students that have experienced trauma and difficult situations over my six years of teaching, and I’ve had students contemplate and even attempt to take their own lives,” Erin told BuzzFeed News.
“I wanted to do something to help them communicate that help was needed in a nonverbal way. Many of us struggle to find the words to ask for help. I thought this poster could make it a bit easier for my students to reach out.”
Indeed, the poster helps Erin feel more connected to her students and vice versa.
“First and foremost my job is to build relationships with students. As human beings we are much more open towards people [who] we feel care about us,” she explained. “If I want my students to listen to me, they need to know that I care about them and have their best interests at heart.”
Erin added that it’s important for teachers to actually follow through with the ideas behind this poster and make discussions of mental health a normal part of the classroom. It’s “OK not to be OK,” and kids need to know that!
Erin has a printable version of the poster board on Teachers Pay Teachers, along with guiding questions for teachers to use.
Tons of teachers have now seen what a positive effect this poster can have on their classrooms. It not only strengthens the teacher-student relationship but also builds an incredibly useful skill for students: naming their feelings.
When students self-report their emotions, they gain more self-awareness and confidence.
As fourth grade teacher Brittani Gomes explained to BuzzFeed News: “If they are able to identify emotional struggles at 9 to 10 years old, then we can begin to repair and build their self-esteem while helping them grow into strong, confident, intelligent members of society.”
“I would love to see this poster in every classroom,” Erin said.
BRB while I make one of these posters for my own house!
This story originally appeared at LittleThings.