What is a wellbeing VTR?
VTR stands for visible thinking routine. They help to make a person’s inner thoughts visible and clear to a third person.
While this is a great way to understand how your students think and feel, remember that visible thinking routines related to trust and well-being could make them feel vulnerable and open to judgment.Tweet
You may find a lot of visible thinking routines on the internet related to academics that encourage students to organize and structure their thoughts on a particular topic. However, I find there is a shortage of ways to encourage students to open up, share and be exposed, especially in post-COVID times. Therefore, I love to build VTRs as I feel like I can tailor them to my needs and share them with educators from across the globe to add value to their teaching practices.
What do you need for this VTR?
You will need a piece of blank paper, pencils and some colours (optional)
How can you use this VTR?
- Assurance- You must begin by assuring students or your group that the current environment is a safe place to share their thoughts and feelings. You can also give them a choice to work in pairs or work with just you as their confidante.
- Creation- Ask your students to draw a house on a blank sheet of paper. They need to make a house with a roof, door, and windows. Give them some time to draw the surroundings outside the house as well. It is essential to ask them to go deep within their subconscious while drawing the environment around their home. All types of creativity are welcome. For example, if a child decides to draw a garden full of trash outside the house, that could be indicative of their insecurities. They could also draw wilted trees or flowering gardens, and the facilitator must share no comment at this time about their artistry or choice of composition.
- The door- Once the students are done drawing, if they’re working in pairs, they need to ask their partners if they are willing to let them in. This is a symbolic question as we ask for permission to enter the mind of the person we are speaking to. If the person says yes, they can write yes on their doors. If the child chooses to say no, abandon this activity for now. Take it up on another day when the child appears emotionally ready to share. As I said before, this activity is built on trust, so never push a child to share if they aren’t prepared.
- The windows- If the child agrees to let you in, ask them to focus on the windows of their house. Ask them to write their inner insecurities on the windows. Ask them to dig deep into their inner demons and document the reasons for their negativity on the windowpanes.
- The Environment– Ask the students to list the external influences that upset them in the environment around the house. This could be the exams, peer pressure, parental strife etc.
- The roof- Lastly, ask the students to focus on the house’s roof. Remind them that the roof of a home is solid and ask them to write down (on the roof) ways in which you can help them. Repeat that you are a form of protection for them and will always be there for them, and you will be able to help them better if they can tell you what you can do to make them strong.
- The foundation- Ask the students to list their inner strengths under the house. Remind them that a strong foundation can withstand all trials. They are stronger than they know.
In both of the above VTRs we decided to do a greater reflection into inner strengths so we stopped at writing about external influences. I plan to take up strengths in greater length so we didn’t rush this step in this VTR.
Through this activity, the students should have created a balance of internal strengths versus external issues. They should also feel motivated to feel better about themselves and ready to tackle the fleeting problems caused by irrelevant external factors if their foundation in themselves is vital.