Today is time to talk day. “This year’s Time to Talk Day is all about bringing together the right ingredients, to have a conversation about mental health. Whether that’s tea, biscuits and close friends or a room full of people challenging mental health stigma, we want you to get talking.” – Time to change

How can we support talking time in the classroom not just today but everyday?

Make time to talk 1:1 with your pupils

Have some regular slots scheduled to talk to pupils one on one. You’re probably reading this thinking this sounds impossible! It’s not though, if you plan it well.  Say you have 15 minutes of independent morning activities. During this time you could choose 2 or 3 pupils to talk to you 1:1 in a quiet space in the classroom about anything they would like to talk about . If you have an afternoon slot like this then do the same thing. Keep a list so no one is missed out. This way pupils get used to talking to you and know you value this time with them.

Make it obvious

Tell your whole class that they can come and talk to you about anything. Set up a system with your pupils where they can let you know they need to talk without having to announce it to the class. Ensure you include any support staff in this as well so you can all be on the same page. Explain that you may not always be able to speak to them straight away for example when you are in the middle of modelling their Maths activity,,,,, but that you will make time as soon as you can.

Safe spaces

I have mentioned this in a few of my previous blog posts, but having a safe space in the classroom for pupils to talk to an adult, have quiet time alone or a chance to talk to a peer is so important. This could be a tent, cosy cushioned corner, buddy bench, whatever works for your pupils and the space in your classroom. The pupil needs to know they have somewhere they can go to feel safe and get support in the classroom.

Talk activities

Plan talk activities for your pupils and encourage your pupils to listen to each other by asking questions about what their peer said. Use activities to embed communication skills so your pupils can support each other too.

Question time 

Have a box in the classroom where pupils can post anonymous questions or worries that they want to talk about with the class. These can be fed in to circle time sessions or class assemblies, giving pupils time to talk and you time to support.

Show your pupils you listen

When you first meet your pupils found out things about them. This could be through an activity such as class bingo (find a person who plays football etc) The you can use this information to start conversations with pupils. For example, if you know your pupil Tom plays football on Saturdays, on Monday morning you can ask Tom, “How was football on Saturday?” Showing your pupils you listen to them and care about what they have to say will encourage them to approach you with their worries.

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