What is well-being at school? How would it benefit students? How can we really promote it, teach it and encourage it in schools? These are the questions that Nadia Rousseau, specialist in educational psychology and professor at the University of Quebec, answered for the Canadian Association for French Language Education (ACELF), on the sidelines of his conference “Well-being at school, we need to talk about it! », presented during the virtual congress of the ACELF in 2021.
In this article, we share with you the elements of the answers provided by the specialist and director of the Network for research and promotion of research for well-being and success in the context of diversity (REVERBÈRE).
What is well-being at school?
“Well-being at school is defined by the students, in the sense that it is something subjective. It stems from the experience of the students. Nevertheless, well-being at school is often associated with positive emotions that are experienced at school,” she says. “Students would say that well-being at school is having fun. To experience emotions such as pride. To experience success. To be good with his friends. To be good with his teachers… We are therefore in something very subjective, which comes from the feelings of the students, ”added the specialist in educational psychology.
Why is it important to be concerned about the well-being of our students in a school context?
“Students who say they are doing well at school do better. It has an impact on the quality of school engagement. It also has an impact on the investment that the student gives to school or in his studies. And that has an impact on school perseverance, ”answers Rousseau. “Then, conversely, malaise at school leads to disengagement in the student and, of course, even more challenges surrounding the whole issue of school perseverance,” she continues. She explains, in conclusion, that this malaise can manifest itself in the student by “the feeling of being inadequate, of being incompetent, of not being loved, of not to be appreciated, to have the impression that one will never succeed, that one will not be able”.
Can well-being contribute to the identity construction of young people?
“Students who are comfortable with their Francophonie will want to stay in this community and get involved. And this is where well-being becomes an important issue. Well-being refers to the whole question of affectivity and emotions. So, the more the student has emotions that are lived in a positive way, the more he wants to continue his efforts”, she argues to answer this question. “The more we commit, the more we achieve. The more we realize ourselves, the more we develop a feeling of pride. The more we [ressent cette fierté], the more we are in a positive balance. There is, through all of this, a kind of gear that mobilizes, ”continues the professor to emphasize the positive contribution of well-being at school.
As a teacher, how do you go about promoting student well-being?
“The first answer I would give is to build the quality of the teacher-student relationship,” says the specialist from the outset. “To build a quality teacher-student relationship, the young people talk to us about relational dimensions in the first place. That is: caring about students regardless of who they [ou elles] are. Greet them. Take the time to get to know them. Take an interest in them [et à elles] as a person, but also take an interest in what they are going through when there are difficulties,” explains the expert.
“The second aspect, still in the teacher-student relationship, is at the level of more educational strategies,” adds the researcher. For her, we must adopt an approach that aims to build learning not “from a pass-fail perspective: “we will learn to pass the exam” but rather from the perspective of learning to improve. These are two very different perspectives. And this is probably the biggest track to put forward, ”she concludes on the question.
The Haitian school knows many challenges. From resource challenges to organizational challenges, including orientation challenges. It is feared that she could make well-being at school her priority in the current circumstances. However, the debate around this need should be launched if only to draw the attention of those concerned to the subject so that it can become a priority in a more stable context of the country.