What educators can do to reduce the student stress crisis
Educators would love their students to come to class ready to learn, but that does not always happen. Life can be hard on students, especially nowadays, so it is up to you to find ways to help students prepare to learn by helping them reduce stress.
Why should student stress worry educators?
As an educator, you want to do your best to teach your students everything they might need to be successful in their chosen career. This not only fulfills your wish to be an effective educator but also reflects well on your skills as a teacher. Ignoring stressed students will likely result in negative outcomes because stress can break a person's ability to concentrate. Your lessons will likely go in one ear and out the other.
You may have a classroom full of great students, but stress is definitely going to hurt performance. No one is saying that you need to solve all the problems students have, but that does not mean there are no techniques you can't employ to help your students feel a little more relaxed. No one ever said that teaching was going to be a breeze, but doing the right thing, no matter what it takes, should feel quite rewarding.
What can you do to help stressed out students?
Stress is a normal part of life, but most mature people learn to recognize it so they can stay in control. This is something that can help students remain calm in the classroom. All you have to do is try to help your students recognize stress when it creeps up on them. There are several signs linked to stress, such as fogginess, rapid heartbeat, nausea, short-temper, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, or an inexplicable sense of loneliness. Teaching your students these signs can help them seek help if they need it.
It may be a good idea to teach in a way that helps students feel a little more comfortable; for example, you can encourage mistakes. An environment where mistakes are welcomed is one that is going to feel less stressful to your already stressed-out students. Besides, mistakes can help students learn a little more, and that is a good thing. You should also make sure that you do not pass on any stress that you are feeling to your students.
Understanding your students and the kinds of things that might be worried about is half the battle. One of the most common stresses that plague students is poverty. Sadly, many children come from families dealing with insurmountable debt and payments the put huge time pressures on their home lives that could be making it hard for them to give you their best. As an educator, you really cannot do much to solve the financial crisis that some families are going through except for being aware and sharing your concerns with the Head, who may be able to offer the family support in other ways. Several charities offer family support and advice.
It may also be a good idea to familiarize yourself with some information that may help students if they ask. For example, deep breathing and meditation have been known to help people regain control of stress levels, which could be helpful to a student in need. Having reliable resources that could help your students is a good idea for your students and even for yourself because being an educator can take a toll on you, too.
Hopefully, some of these points help make your classroom a safe environment where students can leave more of their troubles behind. There is no way you are going to solve all of the problems plaguing your students, no matter how much you try. The point is not to solve but to relieve, and that is a lot more doable, especially with some of the suggestions mentioned here. Always make yourself available to your students, and work on putting yourself in their place as much as possible.
About the author
Andrej is a digital marketing specialist, dedicated writer and digital evangelist, with a keen passion for exploring how technology can help both in classrooms and home learning. He is a contributor to a wide range of technology-focused publications, where he may be found discussing how technology is influencing everything from neural networks and natural language processing.