Topic Sensitivity in the Health Classroom

Where do students learn the most about everyday matters in their life? Here is a hint, it is not the math classroom, the English classroom, or the history classroom. That's right its the health room. Students learn more about how to deal with every day real life situations in the health room then any other classroom and can implement what they learn right away in real life situations. That makes teachers who teach health one the more important teachers in the building because they are teaching students how to live life healthy and to the fullest. The health classroom needs to be a place where students feel free to open up and express their feelings on the various topics that are brought up, and in order to do that the teacher has to encourage openness and be sensitive to certain topics that are being taught.

Anytime where a student could get upset about something being taught the teacher must be sensitive on how the information that is being conveyed is done appropriately to ensure that the student does not become upset. A topic like death and dying for instance is a very touchy subject, especially if you are teaching it in a high school. Students may have recently lost a grandparent, parent, friend, or pet that was close to them and could be going through a whirlwind of emotions. To keep a topic sensitive it is a good idea to have a solid set of class rules that encourages openness, respect, and confidentiality within the classroom.

Some topics are less sensitive and you can try and have some fun with them and possibly even encourage humor while teaching it. For example sex education will always have humor because no matter how old some people get they will still giggle when it comes to sexual topics. As long as the humor is done tastefully and respectfully, as to not offend anyone's sexual preferences or culture. Humor encourages participation, so when the topic is not too sensitive like, first-aid or family life humor should be used. However, in topics like obesity and dying humor should probably be kept to a minimum in order not to upset anyone. To encourage participation in these topics telling a personal story is a good way to set the mood of serious but open environment. When students see that you are willing to share a personal story it makes them more comfortable and are more likely to follow your example if you can be serious and share your story that may be something similar to what a student in your class has experienced.

Overall you must look at your topic and your students and decided whether or not the topic is appropriate to have some fun with or if it needs to be kept serious. After you make that decision it is up to you to find ways to encourage participation and openness from your students to make your lesson run smoothly and have them get the most information and knowledge out of it as they can.