Teachers’ Voices Season 3 Episode 12

Join educational researcher Nina Alonso for this podcast series as she shares powerful stories from teachers around the world, talking in their own words about their own experiences.

Why is it important to make sure children have words to name their emotions? How can teachers promote mental health and wellbeing in schools? Is it possible to remove academic pressure from school?

In this episode, Nina first meets Sarah Griffiths, a Senior Research Fellow at University College London and Co-Director of the Wellbeing and Language Lab in UCL’s department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology. “Language, particularly words for emotions, are critical for understanding emotions,” Sarah explains. Emotion understanding is not innate, children learn about emotions through conversations.

More from Sarah Griffiths
How can children use language to support their mental health?

Next, Nina meets Riffat Arif, known as Sister Zeph, winner of the 2023 Global Teacher Prize. Sister Zeph talks to Nina from Gujranwala in Pakistan. She has given thousands of marginalized children and women access to learning. “Mental wellbeing has always been my priority”, Sister Zeph says. The children at her school are traumatised from poverty, hunger, and physical and mental violence, and Sister Zeph provides them a safe space.

Nina speaks to Virna Talarico, a teacher working in primary education in Zurich in Switzerland. Virna shares that they talk about emotions in the classroom – children have the right to feel emotions and other children have to respect that. “It is important that the children feel they are taken seriously”, she says.

Nina’s final guest is Joyce Mininger, Learning Director of the LearnLife primary years hub near Barcelona in Spain. “We take away the pressure of school”, Joyce explains. At their school, they reduce academic pressure to support children’s wellbeing. They also foster healthy relationships between learners, and work on teacher wellbeing too, which impacts children’s wellbeing.

Listen out for

  • Reappraising reactions to situations through conversations.
  • Giving children security and showing compassion.
  • How Developmental Language Disorder can impact emotion recognition.
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Find out more on BOLD

How can children use language to support their mental health? Sarah Griffiths explains why children with language disorders may need additional support in managing their emotions.

What makes a happy school? Julia Mori shows how people, processes, and places can help children overcome challenges in a learning environment.

Why student wellbeing is central to learning – In this episode of Teachers’ Voices, Nina asks if schools could be places of wellbeing where all children thrive. 

Guests and resources

Sarah GriffithsLab, Twitter/X, UCL

Sister Zeph – LinkedIn, Twitter/X, Global Teacher Prize
ZWEE Foundation of Sister ZephFacebook, Instagram

Joyce Mininger – LinkedIn
LearnLife, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter/X
Dr Ross Greene explains Plan B, a technique to solve problems collaboratively with children

Virna Talarico

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