Whats So Stressful About High School Heres What Teens Told Us About Leaving Normal Schools Behind
In reporting on teens under stress, CPR News has heard from students, educators and parents that academic stress is a greater challenge now than in years past.
To get at some of the ways that the modern system contributes to that, we talked to students at Brady High, an alternative high school in Jefferson County, to ask why they opted out of their more normal schools.
Dominic, Paris, Jakob, Shawn, Brandon and Ellie all except Paris, a junior, are in their senior year explained why theyre doing so much better academically and mentally in an alternative high school.
Several things stood out in our conversation about their experiences in their old high schools, which for some, led to increased anxiety and depression.
How Schools Districts And Families Can Help Support Kids Mental Health
Despite these challenges, experts say, there are ways for schools, districts, and families to help kids through this unprecedented time. For Vinson, its important to start with making sure students most basic needs are met. Kids nutritional status and having reliable, consistent access to food is really important in terms of how they do mentally, she said. School lunch and school breakfast in certain communities is something that families rely upon.
Programs to continue providing meals while school buildings are closed, such as one launched by the Miami-Dade County school district in the spring, are crucial for kids mental as well as physical health. And to make sure kids without internet at home can still connect to their schools, programs like mobile wifi hot spots or in-person learning hubs can be helpful, Vinson said. The San Francisco school district, for example, has pledged to set up hubs serving 6,000 students, where they can get supervision and access to wifi if those arent available at home.
Getting exercise in some form is also helpful for mental health, Vinson says, and its something families can do together. And protecting kids sleep is also crucial. Especially for older kids, that might mean having them hand over their phone to a parent in the evening so they actually go to sleep when its time for bed.
The Science Behind Student Stress
A new study shows how a growth mindset helps students cope with academic setbacks.
A new study finds that when students experience an academic setback such as a bad grade, the amount of cortisolthe so-called stress hormonein their bodies typically spikes. For most students it drops back down to normal levels a day later, but for some it stays high. These students remain fixated on the setback and have difficulty moving forward.
The researchers analyzed the stress levels of students at two high schools in central Texas during an especially stressful timethe transition into high school. Students completed daily surveys asking about the stress they experienced, and daily saliva samples were collected to measure their cortisol levels.
A majority of these students68 percentexperienced a drop in grades in the first semester and reported feeling stressed as a result. In how they handled that stress, two clear groups emerged. Students who believed that intelligence can be developeda growth mindsetwere more likely to see setbacks as temporary, and not only had lower overall cortisol levels but were able to return to lower levels shortly after a setback. Students who believed that intelligence is fixed, on the other hand, maintained high cortisol level for longer, said researchersa stress response that tends to depress problem solving and intellectual flexibility.
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A Bit Of Magic In The Classroom
All of Jordan Salhoobis chemistry students at Yonkers Middle High School are getting the same lessons at the same time.
The ones wearing masks in his classroom hear the same lectures and see the same demonstrations as students watching the livestream at home. When he writes or draws on his computer tablet, students at home see the same images on their screens that students in the classroom see projected on the wall.
But Salhoobis students are not getting the same benefits, he said.
In the room, you get more eye contact, he said. On the screen, oftentimes the kid could be sitting in front of a window. You cant see them, so its hard to make sure theyre attentive.
While its difficult to compare his students performance, Salhoobi said his in-person students sometimes stay after class for extra help that online students rarely ask for. Online students seem more reluctant to raise their hands and they often look tired.
I think that actually coming to school and getting dressed makes kids feel more like they have a purpose in life, he said.
When Yonkers started offering a hybrid option in October that allows students to attend in person either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, most students chose to remain online. Only about a third of students are currently in the hybrid program, a Yonkers district spokeswoman said, leaving many classrooms with just a handful of students.
Make The Most Of The New Year
For those who are eager for the new year to arrive, there are some ways to make sure the opportunity doesnt slip past.
It shouldnt be a surprise that a rock-solid plan is the foundation of it all, rather than fortune-cookie-style wishful thinking.
Once you have established an understanding of why your resolution is important, the next step is to create a strategy and to identify the tools that will help you manifest what you want, said Author and Speaker Tony Robbins. Without a plan, your resolution will remain a pipe dream. To make your goal reality, put pen to paper. Commit yourself even further and write it down for yourself to review every day this year,
A bit of rational optimism can go a long way, according to some leaders in the business world. Theres no denying that the new year offers a chance to reset, recharge, and get to work.
If youre going all-in on a new years plan, you might as well make it detailed and give it your best effort, said Cody Candee, Founder and CEO of Bounce. Set up a daily schedule if that helps, and self-audit to make sure youre minimizing wasted time. Map out goals for each week and month, and reflect on what you did well or where you need improvement. Treat it as a serious project, because thats what your life is! If we prioritize our well-being and personal goals as highly as our work and family responsibilities, wed all be happier and healthier people.
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Uncertainty About The Future
In high school, kids have to start thinking about what kind of career they want to pursue. They also have to choose a path: college, work, vocational training. Kids with IEPs will go through a formal process to plan that transition. But that alone may not lessen the stress.
What you can do: Remind kids that feeling unsure or worried about the future is normal. Explain that there are many ways to thrive and be happy in life. You can also:
Encourage your child to watch the documentary Being You. Its about three young people who learn and think differently who travel around the country to explore what the future may hold for them.
The Content Isnt Accessible
Making sure materials are accessible can be a major challenge, whether students are going online or picking up paper packets. If students arent comfortable with the system youre using, they might avoid it. It takes time to establish norms and practices with a new systemespecially when it involves technology. Its hard to measure engagement when youre all still learning how the new system works.
In some cases, content being presented in a new way keeps kids from accessing it. For instance, students who struggle to process auditory information may have trouble with video lessons. Students who need more visual support may struggle with text-heavy directions and materials. English language learners may have difficulty accessing content without the support theyd typically have in your physical classroom.
Also, many students may be struggling because the content doesnt feel relevant to them right now. It may feel like it has nothing to do with whats happening in the world around them.
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How Parents Can Deal With The Stress Of Virtual Education
Online schooling has been an option for many K12 students for a number of years, but even in the best of times, a virtual education comes with significant challenges for parents and students alike. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents found it more stressful than ever to deal with the hurdles and hiccups of online school.
Experiencing technical difficulties, having limited access to teachers, and worrying about your childs social developmentas you try to do your own work or responsibilities around the homecan be very overwhelming and stressful.
Most students are now going back to traditional in-person school, but some will continue with virtual learning or return to it periodically . If you’re feeling frustrated and not sure how much longer you can manage virtual school, here are seven ways to hang on to your sanity while your child does school online.
Even The Teachers And Faculty Get Stressed Out Too
Have you seen viral photos on social media of tenured professors having a hard time teaching their students online? They have years of experience inside the classroom, but teaching using technology devices has not been their best asset. Theres also the pressure and worry of teachers losing their jobs because there are some schools that are closing. Theres also the additional workload to ensure they deliver quality education to their students. These are all causing anxiety and its been challenging in the mental health of teachers too.
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How Can Students Handle It
Therapist Jessica Tappana explains that knowing how to breathe is an important part of fighting test anxiety. “Breathing helps us to ground and center and feel present. The increased oxygen flow to the brain will help students think more clearly.”
Getting a good night sleep and eating a balanced meal in the morning is mandatory, adds mental health professional Stefanie Juliano. College students should avoid substances such as alcohol before a test.
Come Back Later For Details
Proofreading is vital for your paper to score high. Youll inevitably make mistakes while typing fast, and you might not notice them even when reading your paper over and over. Thats when it might be a good idea to go to EssayService to order proofreading or editing. A person who is unfamiliar with your essay will find way more mistakes than you ever could.
Another way to go about it would be to let your paper sit for a few days. This way, youll at least partially forget it and will be able to proofread it afresh. Unfortunately, this is not an option for many students as we often leave things for the last minute. Thats why help exists, after all!
Now, to the least fun part – formatting. Its often regarded as the most tedious, demanding, and burdensome part of academic writing. And sure, it might be hard, but the more you do it, the easier it gets! So, here are a few tips to help make it better.
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Why Is Teaching So Stressful
It was when head teacher John Illingworth had to stop himself from hitting a parent that he realised he needed to take some time off.
“She was a bit upset with someone else in the school and I just could not cope with the interaction.”
A head teacher of a Nottingham primary school for 24 years, he went on to have a breakdown at the age of 55.
“It was brought on by an accumulation of stresses. I didn’t see it coming but I suddenly found myself unable to do simple things like make decisions or relate to people.
“I realised I was ceasing to function.”
He continues: “When a teacher becomes highly stressed, then their capacity to manage the classroom and relationships is often impaired.”
“If you look at the case of Peter Harvey the trigger for him was the way that those children were behaving with their mobile phones.
“But if he had not been in a highly stressed state those things would not have triggered the response that he made.”
According to England’s Health and Safety Executive, teaching is the most stressful occupation there is.
About 80% of teachers complain about stress at work and thousands of teachers leave the profession every year – predominantly due to stress, Mr Illingworth says.
But what is it about teaching that makes it so stressful? For Mr Illingworth, it is the emotionally intensive nature of the activity.
“In a classroom of 25 to 30 pupils, all with individual needs, you have to be on top of your game – particularly if you have a challenging class.”
Dont Take It Out On The Kids
As you manage increased stress levels around online schooling, perhaps the most important principle of all is this: Dont take it out on your kids. You and your children are in this together. No child deserves any additional anxiety from parents melting down.
On the other hand, that doesnt mean you have to pretend everything is hunky-dory. Be honest with them that you are doing the best that you can to help them while also balancing multiple roles, advises Hammond.
Again, when stress gets the better of you, step away from the situation and give yourself a mental “timeout.” Even a few minutes away from the computer screen may give you the mental reset you need to get back in the virtual saddle.
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Lack Of Feedback And Encouragement
This situation also calls for a discussion with the educator. However, parents and friends can also help lift each other up. Were all especially vulnerable right now. Theres nothing wrong with encouraging words.
Continue to do nice things for one another. Drive by someones house and sing to them. Start a text chat with uplifting and funny memes. There are many ways to make this transition easier.
Remote Students Are More Stressed Than Their Peers In The Classroom Study Shows
As debates rage across the country over whether schools should teach online or in person, students like Sean Vargas-Arcia have experienced the pros and cons of both.
Im much happier in person, said Sean, 16, a junior at Yonkers Middle High School in New York. As Covid-19 rates have fluctuated, he has gone back and forth between online classes and attending in person two days per week.
Its stressful worrying about contracting the coronavirus at school, said Sean, who has health issues including epilepsy and a grandmother who lives with his family. But his online classes wear him down.
When Im at home, fully remote, its more like a sluggish feeling, he said. Im usually feeling distressed and tired and I just dont want anything to do with school anymore.
Theres no question that the pandemic has been hard on children, whether or not their schools have reopened. A flood of research in recent months has found alarming spikes in depression and anxiety among children and their parents. Multiple studies have found that students especially those with disabilities and from low-income families are learning less than they should.
But a new study from NBC News and Challenge Success, a nonprofit affiliated with the Stanford Graduate School of Education, is one of the first to shed light on the differences between students whose classes have been exclusively online and those whove been able to attend in person at least one day per week.
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Solutions To Teacher Stress
Luckily, there are a variety of research-backed solutions that can help teachers stay in education and remain happy and healthy while they do so.
Education Resources Information Center characterizes these solutions as primary prevention, which includes organizational practices which allow teachers some control over their daily challenges, secondary prevention, which focuses on early detection of problems before they emerge as full-blown disorders, and tertiary prevention, which involves ameliorating symptoms of burnout.
Ideally, most solutions will fall into primary prevention, so that burnout can be avoided before it begins. Changes to teacher wellbeing across all three categories can occur structurally or individually.
The State Of The Classroom
Before exploring the various studies and polls that reveal the high levels of teacher stress today, it is important to understand what stress really means for teachers. According to researchers Teri Wood and Chris McCarthy, early symptoms of stress and burnout include:
Feelings of irritation and inadequacy when thinking about school
Physical symptoms such as headaches and insomnia
Withdrawal from colleagues or conflicts with colleagues
Difficulty concentrating at work
Absences or the desire to miss school
Although burnout is a term frequently applied to those in the teaching profession, focusing on how educators succeed or fail at coping with job pressures can be misconstrued as placing the blame squarely on those individuals. As a result, education professor Doris Santoro suggests using the term demoralized instead.
Whatever we call it, it is clear that many educators are experiencing this unhelpful pressure and anxiety on a daily basis.
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