After a wonderful 3-week pre-internship experience I must say I am less than thrilled to be heading back to “regular” school tomorrow. My “less-than-thrilled-ness” is also accompanied by my old friend, “anxiety”, and it has got me wondering…is this what some students feel about school?
I feel quite unprepared to go back to the “normal” schedule of university classes. I’m dreading finishing these final few assignments that remain. I don’t feel like spending hours of class time sharing the details of my pre-internship experience and listening about the experiences of others, that will ultimately make me feel like my experience was somehow “less” than theirs. I am not excited about being surrounded by hundreds of other people in the chaotic and dramatic university. I’m just not into any of it, and thinking of all of it just makes me feel very anxious about it all.
I’m an adult though, so I can handle this. I can get through it. I can block out the negatives, focus on the positives (thanks to my unit on integers I’m very good at working with those concepts!). I can do this.
But what about all those students who may feel like this all the time? Are they as skilled at hiding these anxieties? What does it look or feel like for students who feel these types of anxieties on a daily basis as middle years students, and what I could I do as their teacher to improve their experience? How can I make a positive change in their lives and reduce some of the anxiety they may experience?
Obviously, creating an atmosphere of care, encouragement, and positive relationships is going to be key, but I wondered what else is required…
This website lists a lot of different ways that children can present their anxiety, and I was surprised to see the many ways that are listed! While I was a student who loved school, I definitely felt a lot of anxiety as a students, and can certainly see myself in some of these descriptions. I found a helpful website, Worry Wise Kids, that has some great tips for teachers and parents to help children that may be dealing with anxiety. There are some really simple ideas listed, and I think that I would certainly try to implement many of them in my future classroom. As I read through many of the ideas on the website, I couldn’t help but think, wouldn’t it be great if these accommodations could be made in my university classes too?!
I think talking openly about anxiety with students will be key. How do you do this though? By building great relationships with the class of students, taking the time to just check in with students, making accommodations when necessary, and talking one-on-one with students as needed, I think that student anxiety could be greatly reduced. My time in the classroom the last few weeks has just really showed me how important those relationships are, and how they can help make the classroom such a welcoming and safe place to be. I have to say that I felt very little anxiety during my pre-internship, so there must have been something going right there!
Anxiety is one of those pesky disorders that we don’t talk about a lot, especially with kids, and I think it’s something that we need to work on more as future educators. Since anxiety is and has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, I hope that I can relate to my future students. If you’re not familiar with anxiety, I recommend checking out some YouTube videos (there’s a lot of them out there), but I found this one helpful in explaining some of the experiences of anxiety and panic attacks. They are very real feelings that I have experienced before, and I hope her talk will give others some insight into what it’s like to feel anxiety.
Talking about anxiety doesn’t make it go away, but it helps.I know that mental health issues are very real, and I hope that the more people talk about them, the more others will be afraid to join in on the conversation. It is my goal to keep talking about it, to keep learning about it, to find more help for myself, and to find ways that I can help my future students. So, I hope you will not get sick of me talking about mental health, as I feel like it’s going to be a major avenue that I tackle in the next while!