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When you’re responsible for teaching hundreds of students, it can sometimes be tough to remember all their names, let alone their unique personal characteristics and family circumstances.

By continuing to develop your knowledge of your students’ personality traits and unique backgrounds, you’ll not only get to know them better, but will also build better relationships with them. This exercise can help you to gain insights to do that.

About this resource

  • Develop teachers’ empathy for what students are going through
  • Discussion-based exercise with suggested questions
  • 25-minute staff activity
Young man wearing red hoodie looking at camera

Use this short exercise at your next school or faculty staff meeting. It’s aligned to Standard 1: Know students and how they learn of the Australian Teacher Professional Standards for Teachers.

If you’re not a leader in your school but are passionate about wellbeing and have seen the impact that the current drought is having, share the resource with your deputy or principal as something they might consider using with your colleagues.

Resources needed

  • Facilitator notes, discussion personas, and question and answer guide: PDF

Facilitator notes

  • Introduce the topic for today’s staff meeting: How the drought is affecting student wellbeing, signs to look for, and what we can do as a staff collective.
  • Distribute the two hypothetical student personas and encourage staff members to spend some time reading through the personas in groups.
  • After a suitable amount of time, explore with staff the discussion questions at the end of the handouts. Also see the ‘Discussion questions and suggested answers’ section in case you need a hand in prompting conversation. Some other points to raise and discuss include: 
    • Anxiety: Hannah and Tom are both experiencing worry and stress, which can lead to anxiety if it’s not addressed in a timely manner. Find more info about anxiety among students: ReachOut.click/DroughtAnxiety
    • Wellbeing: Encourage your staff to explore some ReachOut Schools articles related to wellbeing: ReachOut.click/TeacherWellbeing
  • Call for, and have someone note down, practical actions your school may implement to support students struggling to cope with the wide-ranging impacts of the drought. 

There are a range of signs that a young person might be experiencing high levels of stress. They include:

  • tiredness and lack of motivation
  • irritability and anger that are uncharacteristic
  • forgetfulness
  • excessive worry and anxiety
  • withdrawal from social circles and activities the young person usually enjoys.

Stress can show up differently for everyone, so if you notice a change in a student that’s out of character, it might be good to check in with them.

For more information, see: ReachOut.click/StressOfDrought

This resource is part of the ReachOut Drought Relief School Action Pack. View and download the entire pack.