Promoting Student and Teacher Well-Being for Better Language Learning

June 2022

In a continuation from our July 2020 issue on Positive Psychology, we’re taking another look at how students’ and teachers’ well-being impacts their learning and teaching. Whether you’re heading into your summer break or midway through the new academic year, June is a time of year where stress, and the release from it, is forefront in our minds. This issue is full of lots of practical advice on ways to promote well-being in ourselves and our students,  both in and outside of the classroom. 

 “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

photo by ha11ok on Pixabay; others from Unsplash & Creative Commons

Watch before you read...

Back in July 2020, Sarah Mercer introduced us to Positive Psychology and the role well-being can play in education and in ELT (link). In this issue, we’re diving into other aspects of well-being. We set off on our journey by focusing on educational leaders in the Main video and then looking at both teacher and student well-being in the Lite video. Mohammad Khari summarizes the videos in his Introductory article.

We then navigate the learner side of well-being in the first three articles, examining resilience with Akiko Kiyota, inclusion with Heather Kretschmer, and hybrid teaching with Anna Ansari. Next, we venture into the territory of teacher well-being, getting a solid handle of it in Curtis Kelly’s article and then exploring reflective dialogue in Satoko Kato’s article. In the PLUS section, we travel beyond the context of education as Carla Marie Manly gives us practical tips for fostering healthy love relationships.

Our Thoughts on Well-being

“We’re All in This Together" Mohammad Khari

Going over the existing literature on well-being in education, you will realize that the majority of the work done is focused on the learners, and that teachers, in comparison, seem to be lost in the discourse. We now know that teachers’ and learners’ well-being are interconnected, one affecting the other. We also know that there are other factors involved for a school or institution to run smoothly: the manager’s and staff’s well-being. So, this issue will touch on all of those.

Think Tank Articles

What is Resilience and How is it Relevant to Second Language Learning and Development? Akiko Kiyota

Have you ever felt like this? The language barrier is a kind of adversity for you. With limited proficiency, you feel frustrated because you cannot express yourself fully. You feel disappointed, and your identity gets hurt, because you get misunderstood. You feel excluded because you cannot follow the conversation. You feel inferior, because you cannot participate in the activity as fully as you could have if it was done in your first language.

Riding the Waves Together Heather Kretschmer

A little over 10 years ago, my family and I moved from Germany to the US for a year. As the breadwinner, I taught ESOL[1] classes at a local university. It was very enjoyable working with international students whose languages and cultures I was not familiar with. However, it was not all smooth sailing. In one of my courses, the students struggled, sent sullen looks my way, and weren’t terribly eager to participate in class activities.

[1] English as a Second or Other Language

Well-Being and Hybrid Teaching – How Can They Be Reconciled? Anna Ansari

Note: A German version of this article was first published on the ZESS Mediendidaktik blog at the University of Göttingen, Germany in November 2021.

The pandemic and digitalization of classes changed the way we learn, and a new form of teaching, hybrid teaching has emerged. In this complex learning modality, some of the students are in the physical classroom while the others join the lesson virtually via video conferencing. Since teachers must work with on-site learners and virtual learners simultaneously, they have to balance the needs of each group and this is not easy.

Searching for the Secret of Teacher Well-Being Curtis Kelly

To tell the truth, until recently, teacher well-being is something I hadn’t thought about much; student well-being maybe, but not for teachers. I often come across articles in Edutopia and other places about the strain of emergency remote teaching, etc., but that was never a problem for me. All those articles made me wonder sometimes, whether people were just complaining instead of trying to adapt. But my view changed after I had this conversation with Sydney Lee last fall:

Sydney Lee: “Professor Kelly, we’d like you give a presentation at our Korea TESOL conference next spring.”

“Fine,” I replied. “I really like engaging with the KoTESOL folks.”

“We’d like you to talk on teacher well-being.”

“Um. Teacher well-being? Why me? Can I talk on teacher and learner well-being? I know more about that.”

“No. Not for this conference. It must be on teacher well-being.”


The First Step to Focusing on Your Well-Being Satoko Kato

Is self-sacrifice part of being a teacher?

When is the last time you sat down and reflected on yourself while having someone listen to you with dedication?”

I often ask this question in my teacher-training workshops, and one of the most common answers I get is: “I can’t even remember when the last time I reflected on myself was.” What does this tell us? It is that many teachers are willing to take care of others by putting their own well-being at the bottom of their to-do lists. These teachers are usually highly influential to their students, and the degree of their influence on their students sometimes goes beyond imagination.

Think Tank Plus

Nine Actionable Tips for Creating a Strong, Connected Love Relationship Carla Manly

The recipe is different for every couple, but my research has found that healthy communication, friendship, trust, mutual respect, and ongoing appreciation are a few of the most important keys. Whether your romantic relationship is decades old or just getting started, there’s never a better time than now to foster a strong, loving connection with your partner. You don’t need to make huge changes to your relationship; just a few intentional shifts will pay off in the long run. In fact, as noted in my new book, Date Smart: Transform Your Relationships and Love Fearlessly, your own inner world will shift for the better as you discover how to tune into both your intrapersonal and interpersonal worlds in mindful ways. With a positive, can-do attitude, you can change the relationships in your life for the better. From honing your listening skills to embracing the joy of play, you’ll glean relationship-building tips from the actionable list below.

Call for Contributions: Ideas and Articles Think Tank Staff

Become a Think Tank star! Here are some of the future issue topics we are thinking about. Would you, or anyone you know, like to write about any of these? Or is there another topic you’d like to recommend? Do you have any suggestions for lead-in, or just plain interesting, videos? How about writing a book review? Or sending us a story about your experiences? Contact us.

 Inclusion Makes the World More Vibrant


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The MindBrained Think Tanks+

is produced by the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) Mind, Brain, and Education Special Interest Group (BRAIN SIG). Kyoto, Japan. (ISSN 2434-1002)

Editorial Staff

Stephen M. Ryan                Julia Daley                   Marc Helgesen

              Curtis H. Kelly                Skye Playsted              Heather Kretschmer        

    Jason Walters                               Mohammad Khari


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