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Teen Stress has been Heightened by a Year of Pandemic. Here’s How to Help Them

An excerpt from Teen Stress has been Heightened by a Year of Pandemic. Here’s How to Help Them by John Duffy

(CNN)--I started working with Shannon, a high school junior, at the beginning of lockdown. Shannon has asthma, and she's afraid of getting Covid-19 herself. She's also afraid of making a family member or someone else sick. And she fears the pandemic will never be over, that things will never again feel normal.

I also work with Tim, a high school senior. I started therapy with Tim about two years ago. He is a handsome, popular, athletic guy. But he's stressed about being able to afford the upper-middle-class life his parents have given him. He can't picture being successful, and he is painfully anxious about it. Especially during the pandemic, possible failure is on his mind nearly constantly.

Do you remember worrying about your adult life when you were a teenager? Neither do I. Kids just think differently now. Like Shannon and Tim (not their real names), they have this broad scope and range of experience and knowledge, based in large part on what is available to them on screens, and from their friends.


The pandemic has made things so much worse. Many teens I work with deal with a nearly crippling social anxiety, either from a lack of practice after a year with precious little time with friends, or because of overall social insecurity. As a result, they experience the fear of missing out regularly, and they think their friends are enjoying themselves on TikTok and Snapchat, adding to their levels of stress.


Some also feel a sense of desperation, depression and anxiety they have never experienced before, always having considered themselves positive, upbeat people. Several of my clients are now taking medication to balance their moods.

How to Recognize Stress in your Teens

Sometimes, our kids actually tell us they are stressed, which is amazing. If they do, you are lucky. Skip down to the "what parents can do to help" section right now.

More likely, they won't. In my experience, kids are rarely forthcoming about these things, assuming parents either won't get it or may limit their freedom to keep an eye on them at home in a misguided attempt to help.

Sometimes, our kids actually tell us they are stressed, which is amazing. If they do, you are lucky. Skip down to the "what parents can do to help" section right now.

More likely, they won't. In my experience, kids are rarely forthcoming about these things, assuming parents either won't get it or may limit their freedom to keep an eye on them at home in a misguided attempt to help.

I encourage parents to look for any marked change in their child's mood or behavior due to anxiety and worry. Stressed kids can present as irritable, avoidant, even withdrawn. And/or their stress might manifest in physical symptoms, including fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, stomach issues and difficulty sleeping.

They may also regulate their emotions more poorly, become short-tempered, angry and overly emotional. Your formerly compliant child may now seem suddenly rude, talking back, yelling and disrupting the household. Before doling out discipline or a consequence, sit with her, talk, and listen, about not only her levels of stress, but her emotional life overall.

If it's stress, get to what's causing it. I find parents are often wrong about why their kids feel stressed. Parents might think, for instance, that their kids are worried about their grades when they actually are concerned about being left out socially.

Know that what's stressing you out about your kid is likely different than what's burdening them. So, hear her out. Be curious. But give your child space and time to process. Set your judgment and ego aside, and really listen, acknowledge, and don't overreact.


Sometimes just listening and acknowledging can solve the problem. But if not, talk about what you might be able to do together to help.


What Parents can do to Help

Guide your child to calm her mind and problem-solve. A moment of meditation or a few deep breaths can bring quick relief to your stressed child. And once she is calm, break down the stressor into digestible chunks.

Maybe he can reach out to his teacher for an extension on a project. Or she can text an apology to her friend for slighting her. Often it's just a matter of looking at the stressful situation in a different way. Thoughtful problem-solving under stress is an invaluable lifelong skill.
And finally, model healthy coping. Don't forget you are an enormous influence on your child. Kids are forever paying attention to the way you manage your stress.

Full Article:


Teen Stress has been Heightened by a Year of Pandemic. Here’s How to Help Them


 BY John Duffy


Duffy, Analysis by John. “Teen Stress Has Been Heightened by a Year of Pandemic. How to Help.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 May 2021, www.cnn.com/2021/05/04/health/how-to-help-teen-stress-wellness/index.html?utm_source=fbCNN&utm_term=link&utm_content=2021-05-04T18%3A01%3A18&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR1se7Cv4O2Nptva1-6fVl4-XCmlWY2mBjO-uVECO92d8M2adiUk0fCuQVY.

Director of Strategic Communications

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[nekiesha]

this article touched on the types of stress and anxiety teenagers may be facing during the pandemic. I found it really compelling because as parents, we often focus on the behavior in our children, instead of first considering the cause.

COVID-19 has added to the educational barriers girls and women face around the world

An article by Alexandra Chaves of the CBC. Alexandra Chaves is a 19-year-old Plan Canada Youth Advocate who is passionate about gender equality and girls' rights.  

It's been nearly one year since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Shortly afterward, schools in Canada and the world began to close, making access to education a global issue.

Here at home, students began navigating the new challenges of online education, lost school days, and the effects of the pandemic on their mental health. But the extent of uncertainty for students in many communities around the world, and particularly for girls and young women, has been much greater.

More than 11 million of them may never return to their education after the pandemic, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). That's the equivalent of 30,000 girls a day who may drop out or not have access to school in 2021 due to COVID-19, one girl every three seconds.

Why is this the case? The problem stems from a continuous cycle of gender inequality and poverty in developing countries.

Unequal and harmful gender norms often put the onus on a girl to care for her household and siblings, creating a situation where her family may see more value in keeping her home than sending her to school.

Girls sometimes face the risk of child- and forced-marriage, which can result in them dropping out of school. Stigma and a lack of access to clean water or sanitation in some places also make it difficult for young women to attend school while menstruating.

In contrast to the accessibility of education in Canada, the trek to school for girls in some countries also puts them at an increased risk of violence or harassment – a risk many parents will not allow their daughters to take.

A schoolgirl makes her way through the Kibera slums of Nairobi on Oct. 1, 2020, after the government partially reopened schools. (Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)

Even in those developing countries where education is free, the cost of uniforms and school supplies is beyond the reach of many girls and women.

This means that even in circumstances where parents want their daughters to attend school, the financial barriers may be too great.

COVID-19 has added an additional layer to all of the barriers girls and women face, through school closures, lockdowns and unequal access to alternatives such as online learning.

No one's future should be decided for them, but for many around the world, the pandemic is doing just that. It's robbing girls of their education and threatening the future of up-and-coming leaders and change-makers in the process.

Saba Qureshi, a teacher at a government school, is seen in an an empty classroom in Dharavi, Asia's largest slum in Mumbai, India, on Feb. 22. Schools have been locked down due to COVID-19. (Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press)

Education is important to me, and I have never taken it for granted. I was fortunate enough to grow up with access to quality education at a public school near my house. I also had the flexibility and support to pursue an online education, which has allowed me to develop an acting career while exploring university aspirations.

Unfortunately, many young women are not afforded such opportunities. Access to education is a fundamental right under Article 26 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but for millions of girls around the world, it is a right that is not upheld.

We must act now to stop this setback.

Students attend an outdoor class taught by a 12-year-old girl on Feb. 7, 2021, as schools remained closed due to COVID-19 in Atmida, Egypt. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)

Schools enable girls to grow knowledge, provide them with opportunities, and act as a safe space to build confidence and personal agency. Getting and keeping girls in the classroom is crucial to improving our global society.

I have learned that the world changes when young people demand it. We can harness the power and privilege we have to create meaningful change.

We have the power to ensure that the world recognizes girls and women in crisis, and the challenges they face. Now is not the time to stay quiet.

On International Women's Day, as we celebrate the achievements of women and progress toward gender equality, we have a chance to reflect on how to create a new normal where girls and women worldwide can fully realize their rights, including access to quality education.

Children from remote areas are more likely to be digitally excluded during school closures than those in urban areas due to lack of internet access, preventing them from taking lessons online. Plan International recently delivered walkie-talkies to the island of Lembata, Indonesia, to help teachers maintain contact with their students while schools are closed by the pandemic. (Plan Canada)

Working with Plan International Canada toward gender equality has made me optimistic for the future. I have had the privilege to listen to and speak with inspiring and passionate youth who are creating change in their own communities and abroad. I encourage those looking for ways to be involved in creating change to visit and follow informative social media sources like @UNWomen and @feminist, and to share their messages and spread awareness. Join the conversation and listen to discussions about the gender equality movement.

Ask questions. Sign petitions. If you have the means, donate to organizations that are working to stop the setback to women's and girls' rights caused by lack of access to education.

And encourage others to do the same.

The signs are all around us. We can only make the changes the world needs right now when we work together to ensure that women and girls everywhere can access the education that is their right, and realize their inner power to be the leaders they are — now and in the future.

Full Article:


COVID-19 has added to the educational barriers girls and women face around the world


 BY Alexandra Chaves


Chaves, Alexandra. “OPINION | Pandemic Robbing Many Young Women Worldwide of Their Education | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 8 Mar. 2021, www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/opinion-women-equality-education-1.5935791.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

Women's issues have always been something I have been very passionate about. During women's month, it is incredibly important that we not only look at the outright sexism and misogyny that is very present in our world, but the underlying systematic issues as well, like how the expectations of women start so early in a girl's life that it can fully effect her education in ways that would not effect that of their male counterparts.

Should Schools Teach Mindfulness?

An excerpt from What Students Are Saying About: The American Dream, Mindfulness in Schools and How to Define ‘Family’ by The New York Times​​

On Feb. 4, the British government announced that, alongside mathematics, science and history, students in England would now be learning mindfulness in school. We asked students if they would want to take a such a class and if they thought all schools should do more to improve students’ well-being.

They overwhelmingly said yes — taking a break during the day, having a moment for self-reflection, gaining skills to manage stress and learning how to talk about mental health would all be immensely beneficial for their overall well-being. But a few cautioned against viewing mindfulness classes as the be-all-end-all solution to mental illness.

“Yes! As a high school student, I know that so many teenagers suffer from some form of mental illness and are not getting the help they need. My neighbor recently was hospitalized for depression and was taken out of school for a least three weeks. She, like too many others, reach this breaking point because we aren’t taught how to take care of ourselves mentally …

The question isn’t “should” schools have a mindfulness class; it’s “why” we don’t have one already. To be honest, if schools really cared about their student’s overall wellbeing, then a mindfulness class is a no-brainer. We are not just learning sponges that suck up information all day. We are humans too. Just as schools teach us about the world around us, they must also teach us about ourselves. It’s time to actually take action and find solutions to this ongoing mental concern.”

- Lili, IL -

“Time in the day to put my mind at ease, especially during the most chaotic seven hours of the day would make a huge impact on my mood, grades, energy, and desire to function in general. I feel that schools setting a time for mindfulness and meditation classes is a great idea, one that many students would appreciate and find helpful. The mental pause in between studying for tests and analyzing writing would help in countless ways some for me personally being; more energetic, happier, less stressed, and better management over my schoolwork and grades, all making this practice time an even better idea.”

- Lilli Peluso, Massachusetts -

“Mental health is crucial to every living person. For our entire lives in school, we have taken Physical Education to equip ourselves with methods of staying physically healthy in the future. This class trains students to get up and be active for long-term continuation, but there is not significant attention being put toward mental health. Especially in high school, students (often) feel pressured to do their best, receive the best grades, be the most social, win the most competitions and maintain a happy persona. In reality, these pressures are incredibly detrimental to our mental health as we begin to focus our efforts on perfection over improvement. I believe that we should learn, early on in life, how to balance stress. A mental health class in high school can 1) help improve our mentalities in the present moment and 2) teach us how to cope with difficulties later on in life.”

- Sami L., Northbrook -

“Teaching mindfulness is an essential addition to every school’s curriculum. Learning to reflect and understand one’s self is arguable more important than perhaps a physics lesson … Why learn chemistry equations when I could be spending my time pursuing and developing what I am actually passionate about. But a class in mindfulness has life-long benefits for all. Girls, guys, doctors, teachers, performers, lawyers, accountants, you, and me would benefit immensely, taking a pause during our crazy lives to live in the present and reflect upon the moment.”

- Alexis, Northbrook -

“Instead of putting academic studies as first priority, schools should create a balance between mindfulness and academic studies. By creating a balance, school could be made into a happy environment where there is a change of behavior, concentration levels, and self-esteem. Not only will this benefit students but it will also benefit the entire school as well. Statistics have shown that schools that have included mindfulness sessions in a school day have a result of 50% fewer rule infractions, 38% fewer suspension days, 25% fewer absentee days, and better performance on attention tests like the ADD-H Teacher-Ratings scale.”

- Alissa, PA -

“A five-minute mental check-in at the beginning of the day may not seem like much, but it could force a student to examine their own state. Are they hungry? Have they been neglecting breakfast? Did they sleep? With the amount of work, responsibilities, and social obligations most teens face, we often don’t get a moment of rest and self-reflection until our head hits the pillow at the end of the day. Mindfulness and the ability to take a second to be aware of our physical presence and mental state are important.”

- Faye, Chicago -

Full Article:


What Students Are Saying About: The American Dream, Mindfulness in Schools and How to Define ‘Family’


 BY Lindsay Morris


Morris, Lindsay. “What Students Are Saying About: The American Dream, Mindfulness in Schools and How to Define 'Family'.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Feb. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/learning/what-students-are-saying-about-the-american-dream-mindfulness-in-schools-and-how-to-define-family.html.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I always love to hear the perspective of students in the American education system. I think as adults, it is so easy to forget your own mindset as a child, and with America being one big melting pot, it is interesting to hear the opinions of children and teens with different backgrounds and outlooks giving their perspective on their current situation. 

If I Were President…

An article from TIME for Kids

(Today) is Inauguration Day. Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. This year, many of the inaugural activities are taking place online. One of them is a special livestream for students and families called Our White House. “We want to ensure that we are engaging folks of all ages,” Tony Allen said in a statement. He’s the head of the Biden Inaugural Committee.

Many of our TFK Kid Reporters will be watching tomorrow’s events, and all Americans will be paying close attention to what President Biden does during his first 100 days. The first 100 days of a new president's term are especially important. People start to learn what kind of leader he or she will be. They watch to see which issues and projects get priority. We asked TFK Kid Reporters, “If you were elected president, what would you do in your first 100 days in office?” Here’s what they had to say.

“The first thing I would do would be to control the coronavirus pandemic. I would help the vaccine get to more people all over the United States.”

- Miguel Madero, 10 -

San Antonio, Texas

“One of my top priorities would be the environment. I would bring scientific experts together to collaborate and find ways to slow climate change. And I would advocate for and give money to reforestation programs.”

- Abby Rogers, 11 -

Lahaina, Hawaii

“I’d try to stop climate change by reducing pollution. I would limit the amount of single-use plastic being manufactured and used. I would also clean up the world’s oceans.”

- Sophia Hou, 11 -

Short Hills, New Jersey

“Good relationships with other countries are essential. I would meet with top world leaders and establish friendships. (And I’d paint the White House rose gold, my favorite color!).”

- Rory Hu, 10 -

Cupertino, California

“I would go on national listening tours to meet with millions of Americans. I’d show them that I value their opinions, I understand their feelings, and I want to work with them to make America a better place.”

- Jeremy Liew, 12 -

Riverdale, Connecticut

“The first thing I’d do is make a holiday honoring one of my heroes, Harriet Tubman. She risked her own life and safety to free people from slavery.”

- Victoria Hanson, 11 -

Chadds Ford Township, Pennsylvania

“I know that student loans are a big worry for college graduates. I’d pardon student loans up to $10,000.”

- Pranav Mukhi, 10 -

South Setauket, New York

Full Article:


If I Were President...


 BY TFK KID REPORTERS


Kid Reporters, TFK. “If I Were President...” Time for Kids, 19 Jan. 2021, www.timeforkids.com/g56/if-i-were-president/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

Today is a historical day for our country. I chose this article because it is important to remember that children are watching. We all know that the children are our future, and to hear their words of hope are encouraging to those of all ages. And also, I agree with Rory. Rose Gold is a lovely color. 

Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays

An excerpt from 10 Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays by Meaghan Dunham

While holidays can be a welcome break from assignments and school, this year’s holiday season will look different due to the pandemic. Many families won’t be able to travel or meet in large groups, holiday traditions will be altered, and students may not get to spend time with loved ones. The pandemic has also caused many hardships on families, including financial stress and food insecurity.

Unmanaged stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and can cause harmful physical effects. It can also increase students’ risk of dropping out, substance abuse, and suicide. However, educators can help students learn how to effectively manage and reduce stress..

As an educator, you are in a unique position to provide stability and support to your students and their families during the holidays and these uncertain times. One of the best ways you can help students is by looking after their social-emotional health.

Here are 10 ways to help your students learn effective stress management.

Help students understand what is happening

A simple and age-appropriate conversation about what is going on and why the holidays might look different this year can help alleviate students’ anxiety and stress. Ask students how they are feeling. Listen to them and validate their feelings by telling them it’s ok to feel sad, disappointed, or angry.

Promote a growth mindset

Research shows that a growth mindset can help students maintain a sense of control over their lives and address the cognitive causes of stress within the brain. Growth mindsets allow us to see the world through a lens of growth, which means we have the power to turn our thoughts from a negative focus induced by stress to a positive focus striving toward improvement. Help students develop a growth mindset by teaching them to focus on the positive and view challenges as opportunities for growth, rather than threats.

Encourage students to get enough sleep

Younger children need 10-12 hours of sleep each night and high school students need around eight to nine hours. Talk to students about why getting enough sleep is important for their physical and mental health.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing works just as well for students as it does for adults. It can have a powerful physical effect in reducing tension and relaxing the body — and it can have immediate results. Clinical research shows that regular deep breathing exercises affect the heart, brain, digestion, and the immune system. 

Be a listening ear

Some students don’t have an adult at home who they feel they can turn to in times of need. Encourage students to talk to you about their feelings so you can work through any concerns they may have. Keep the communication going during remote learning through email, online chat, or virtual meeting spaces. If possible, continue your outreach during the holidays so students have someone to turn to if they need help.

Our students’ resiliency has certainly been tested this year. The holidays will bring a new set of challenges, but you can help your students work through these stressful times by teaching them effective stress management skills. We hope these de-stressing tips are helpful to keep you and your students happy and healthy this holiday season!

Full Article:


10 Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays


 BY Meaghan Dunham


Dunham, Meaghan. “10 Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays.” Aperture Education, 18 Nov. 2020, apertureed.com/tips-to-manage-holiday-stress-students/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

Teachers have so much power in the positive presence they bring into their students' lives. Although the little things may not seem like much, to a student with issues at home, or even the modern student struggling with the 2020 holidays, they can mean the world.

Students and Holiday Stress

An excerpt from Managing the Stress of the Holidays.

The Holidays are not a carefree and joyous time for all of our students. For some it means stressful situations with family or missing family, shortages of food, and lack of money meaning no presents under the tree. According to Ruby Payne, it is important to be sensitive to these realities for our students and refrain from asking questions or making assignments based upon the assumption that the holidays are a great, trouble-free time for all. What can you do to help prepare students who might experience stress during the Holidays?

Stick to Routines

Students thrive on routines. It’s o.k. to still have the party and the fun, just try to limit the amount of times that you are shifting from your regular routine. Remember, for the next couple of weeks students will have their regular school routines disrupted by fall and winter breaks.

Create Fun Moments

Create more opportunities for brain breaks, 1-3 minutes a couple different times throughout the day can be very powerful. 

Frequent check-ins with students

Try to spend extra time each day with these students just chatting and letting them know you care.  Offer them opportunities to see the counselor or school psychologist if they want some extra support. 

Share mindfulness and stress reduction techniques

Give students a “chill” pass that lets them take a break when needed.  Breathing exercises, stretching, and exercise opportunities can help reduce stress. 

Full Article:


Managing the Stress of the Holidays


 BY SMOKY HILL EDUCATION SERVICE CENTER


Education Service CenterSmoky , Smoky Hill. “Managing the Stress of the Holidays.” Smoky Hill, 2020, www.smokyhill.org/vnews/display.v/SEC/Programs%20%26%20Services%7CSECD%20Resources.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because although the holidays are the best times of the year for some us, for others it can be incredibly stressful. In the year 2020, I think a lot of us are feeling more holiday stress then normal, so it is important to be considerate of those who are struggling, and bring holiday cheer not through gifts, but through kindness and understanding. 

Main Challenges Facing Students Today

An excerpt from Mindfulness for students: The secret to student wellbeing? by Lachlan Brown

So why exactly is there so much more anxiety amongst students of all age groups today?

There is no one answer for this, and the problem can be found by investigating the most pressing concerns that students have to deal with.

Some of the major problems stressing students out include:

Eco-Anxiety

Eco-anxiety, also known as climate depression, is a growing condition of anxiety caused by fears and worries related to climate change.

Young people today have grown up with the reality of climate change and the fear that not enough is being done to stop or reverse it.

According to one 18-year-old student from Alabama, she feels that climate change had become an inevitable part of her life.

“I feel like in my peer group, you just go right from talking about polar bears dying to ‘Did you see what Maya posted on Snapchat?’ Nobody has a filter to adjust. It’s like, the ice caps are melting and my hypothetical children will never see them, but I also have a calculus test tomorrow.”


More psychiatrists are observing climate-related anxiety amongst students, although it can be difficult to identify climate change as the cause since it’s a shared problem rather than a personal one. 


Social Media


Social media has fundamentally changed the way people interact with each other, and for kids and young adults who have only ever known a world with social media, this leads to consequences that previous generations never had to deal with.

Countless studies have found links between social media use/screen time and anxiety; the more screen time a young person has, the more likely they are to have higher anxiety than those around them.

But what is it about social media that leads to anxiety?

Everything from cyberbullying (which is rampant amongst students, as anonymity and faceless interactions make it easier for them to say things they would never say in real life) to comparing yourself against the social media highlights of your peers.

These upward comparisons to others can make students feel small and inadequate.

But the answer isn’t as simple as removing social media from their life cold turkey.

Amongst heavy users, this can also increase anxiety because of a phenomenon known as FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out.

Students who also engage heavily on social media are also more likely to have higher levels of alcohol consumption, which further increases anxiety and depression.

Information Overload


Another modern problem previous generations never faced is information overload, or the overwhelming feeling of being bombarded with too much information, data, and news on a daily basis.

And in the world of smartphones and wireless internet, students are forced to deal with more information than ever before.


For many young people, this information overload comes before their brains are fully developed and capable of processing everything without being overly stressed out or affected.

Information overload is also connected to distraction issues present in many students today, as they develop problems with focusing and concentrating due to endless stimulation.

Student Debt


Student debt and financial distress has made a huge impact on the overall mental health of older students and young adults today.

Also known as financial anxiety, student debt has been found to be a major aggravator of stress and anxiety amongst students in their 20s and 30s.

This stress is greatest as students are about to graduate, as the pressure comes from knowing they have to start paying off the debt but also knowing they are entering a weak job market.

According to Dr. Galen Buckwalter, “A lot of the pressure comes from where you started, thought-wise, where college is concerned.

Many people begin college and the openness of their personality changes, as everything feels suddenly possible.

“But the reality is that the expectations on all levels are really rigid and the stress comes from the abrupt shift, after several years in college where the world feels very welcoming to suddenly realizing that one needs to find the correct path, all with financial stress.”

Testing Anxiety


Testing anxiety or test anxiety affects around 10 million students in North America, with around 16 to 20% of students experiencing high test anxiety and another 18% dealing with moderate test anxiety.

The pressure to succeed as a student is now greater than ever, with standardized, high-pressure tests coming into students’ lives at earlier ages.

Students with test anxiety fear their negative self-talk, grades as a reflection of their value, high expectations brought on by themselves or by parents and teachers, and the overall lack of control when dealing with tests they aren’t comfortable with, such as timed tests or impromptu tests.

Mindfulness: What Is Mindfulness and How Can It Help Students?


With so many stressors attacking students from all sides, it can feel like an impossible task helping them overcome each and every problem.

The issue is that these stressors can’t be easily solved; problems like climate change, social media information overload, and cyberbullying are long-term issues that affect all areas of their life.

They simply can’t be “turned off”; they are a part of reality that students need to accept.

Helping students deal with their anxiety means equipping them with the tools to properly navigate through these issues without losing their sense of self. And the best tool to do that is mindfulness.

Full Article:


Mindfulness for students: The secret to student wellbeing?


 BY Lachlan Brown


Brown, Lachlan. “Mindfulness for Students: The Secret to Student Wellbeing?” Hack Spirit, 26 Sept. 2020, hackspirit.com/mindfulness-for-students/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because it is a very recent article that takes into consideration not only the normal struggles that students face, but also the more recent ones that come with 2020. Being knowledgeable about these struggles can help us mold our education system into one that supports the students in all aspects of their lives. 

When Teachers Experience Empathic Distress

An excerpt from When Teachers Experience Empathic Distress by Rebecca Alber​​

In my years teaching in urban public schools, I saw many students experience extreme stress from living in poverty and also in gang-affiliated neighborhoods. The children I taught had frequent food and housing insecurity, and were exposed to multiple forms of violence—on the streets, at school, and in their homes. As The Atlantic reports, location, income level, and race can determine how often children experience crisis and violence.

Teachers, particularly those working in schools located in communities with high poverty, often find themselves overburdened and under-resourced to help their students (and their students’ families) who are experiencing routine and extreme trauma.

DEFINING EMPATHIC DISTRESS
I first heard the term empathic distress from Dr. Joan Halifax, an anthropologist, educator, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. 

She uses the term to describe what happens when someone is exposed repeatedly to the trauma of others.

In terms of those who work in service professions like emergency medicine, teaching, and hospice care, Halifax finds it more accurate than compassion fatigue. And I agree—the term struck a deep chord in me when I first heard it. “Yes,” I remember thinking, “that’s it.”

Most weekends I was able to put all that I knew about my students’ lives on hold, be with friends and family, and relax. But then there were Saturdays that would go into Sundays when I couldn’t shake a foreboding, nagging feeling of despair. I couldn’t stop thinking, for instance, about the 16-year-old student in my fifth period class who shared with me that she was by far in the best group home she’d been in but that her belongings were constantly being stolen by other girls.

For teachers, that feeling of deep empathy for a student, coupled with knowing that you’ve done all you can do—and the child is still perhaps still suffering—can cause considerable distress.

First and foremost, we need to come to an understanding and a place of acceptance that we have a limited area of influence and reach when it comes to the healing journey of our students who have trauma. We can’t save anyone but ourselves. We know this. But that helplessness that teachers feel, that is not a sort of fatigue—it’s distress. So how do we address that distress?


THE PRACTICE OF COMPASSION
The goal of the practice of compassion is to nurture kindness, compassion, and love, for oneself and for others. Cultivating this compassion and good will in our lives can serve as a salve for feelings such as empathic distress.

What does compassion practice look like? Similar to mindfulness, you can be seated, standing (eyes opened softly or closed), or walking slowly, and then one way you can practice it is by repeating to yourself (how many times, and for how minutes is up to you) the phrase, “May I be safe, may I be healthy, may I be happy, may I be at ease.”

You can simply stay with just the phrase for yourself, or you can move to the next phrase, imagining someone you would like to wish well who is struggling or in pain—a student, a family member, a colleague. Then repeat the following phrase, “May you be safe, may you be healthy, may you be happy, may you be at ease.”

Next, move to thinking about a group whom you are connected with—a classroom full of your students or your family—and repeat the phrase, ​



“May we be safe, may we be healthy, may we be happy, may we be at ease.”

In a study, those who engaged in the practice of compassion for seven weeks reported a noticeable difference emotionally—an increase in gratitude, contentment, hope, and joy, and a decrease in anxiety and stress. (You can also try an audio-guided practice for compassion.)

PERCEPTION SHIFT
As teachers working in difficult and challenging settings, the way to survive and thrive isn’t just about taking action for ourselves (going to an exercise class, say) or our students (staying after school to listen and comfort, or advocating for additional counseling services). I propose that it also requires we spend time routinely going within and tending to our own distress with intentional care and compassion.

Full Article:


When Teachers Experience Empathic Distress


 BY Rebecca Alber


Alber, Rebecca. “When Teachers Experience Empathic Distress.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 18 Apr. 2018, www.edutopia.org/article/when-teachers-experience-empathic-distress.

Account Associate

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because it is important to understand that everything going on in students' lives not only affects them, but their teachers as well. Teachers are caring people who have a heart for their students, so knowing that some students are still suffering after a teacher has done everything in their power to prevent it can be draining. With everything students face on a daily basis, it is crucial to be empathetic while taking care of your own mental health. 

The Social-Emotional Impact of Distance Learning

An article from Learning Without Tears by Valerie Zaryczny​​

“Why can’t I play with my friends?”

“What happens if everyone gets the virus?”

“When is the next time we can do something fun?”

“It feels like I’m grounded.”

“I hate the Coronavirus!”


Maybe you’ve heard similar comments from your kids in the past few weeks.

Just how much are school closures and social distancing efforts affecting our children’s social-emotional well-being?

  • Their daily routines are disrupted. 
  • Sports and other extracurricular activities are cancelled. 
  • Social interactions are now limited to immediate family members and, if they are lucky, occasional video meetings with classmates and friends.

Yes, adults are experiencing these disruptions too, but we have perspective and emotional maturity on our side. 


As parents, we're spending time and energy to ensure that children are on track with their distance learning activities. We’ve stockpiled food and supplies to take care of their physical needs. We also need to be assessing the state of our children’s social-emotional health and providing opportunities for social-emotional learning and growth through this difficult season.

The best way to get insight into children’s emotional state is to ask them!  

Invite them to talk about their feelings and fears. Emotional understanding is an important aspect of emotional development, and we can encourage its development by helping children name their own feelings. Resist the urge to suggest how they should feel. Listen and accept their emotions without invalidating or criticizing them. 



Some children may not be able or willing to verbalize their feelings to you, but there is another way to gain insight into their emotional health. 


How many of you have noticed changes in your child’s behavior or mood in the past few weeks? Self-regulation is another important element of social-emotional development that includes managing emotions and behavior when faced with difficult situations and transitions.  Increased anger, irritability, withdrawal, clinginess, or even sleep and appetite changes may indicate that a child has strong underlying emotions they don’t know how to appropriately express.



So, what are some practical steps we can take to support our children’s social-emotional health through this time? 

  • As much as possible, establish a predictable routine and rhythm for your days.
  • Prioritize spending quality time each day with your children to increase their sense of security.
  • Provide regular opportunity for your children to connect with family members and friends by video, phone, or handwritten letters.
  • Spend time outside, and get regular exercise.
  • Encourage children to develop goals to work towards during their time at home. Maybe they want to learn a new skill like making friendship bracelets, or set a goal to support a family member by writing them a letter once per week.
  • Give your child something fun to look forward to. Schedule a game night, develop a menu for a special meal to cook together, or plan a pretend trip to an exotic location!
  • Encourage children to keep a journal or blog to record their thoughts and feelings.

Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s physician for recommendations and support when needed.

Full Article:


The Social-Emotional Impact of Distance Learning


 BY Valerie Zaryczny


Zaryczny, Valerie. “The Social-Emotional Impact of Distance Learning.” Learning Without Tears, 10 Apr. 2020, www.lwtears.com/blog/social-emotional-impact-distance-learning.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

I chose this article because it is important to see that although this school year may be different for many families, there are still ways to nurture our children's social-emotional health, all while maintaining a proper education. 

Reimagining Classrooms: Teachers as Learners and Students as Leaders

Why do some classrooms look the same now as they did 70 years ago? In this passionate talk, second grade teacher Kayla Delzer speaks about her mission to revitalize learning and the classroom environment. Kayla explains how to release the power in the classroom by giving students ownership of their learning and making it relevant to them.
Breaking down the four walls of the classroom allows her students to become globally connected - and you won’t believe the endeavors her students conquer by embracing purposeful technology.

Kayla Delzer is a 2nd grade teacher and Project Lead the Way Lead Teacher in West Fargo, North Dakota. In August, she will begin her 8th year of teaching 2nd grade and her second year with West Fargo Public Schools (WFPS). Teaching is her true passion in life, and she enjoys her job and helping children to love learning and become creative problem solvers. Her students are her focus in life; they are like family to her. In August 2014, she completed her master’s degree in Elementary Education.
She also serves on the Technology Task Force and Social Media Task Force for WFPS. Her classroom Twitter account, @tweetingtopdogs, has allowed her students to learn virtually with hundreds of classrooms and educational experts from all over the world.
Kayla has teamed up with several companies to improve the lives of students and teachers, and she works frequently with GoNoodle and Remind. She is highly sought after by educational and technology companies to preview and review their products.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Delzer, Kayla. Reimagining Classrooms: Teachers as Learners and Students as Leaders. TEDxFargo, Youtube, 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6vVXmwYvgs&t=272s.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this video because in our country, it is an unprecedented time. Many schools are relying on technology to teach their students, in and outside of the classroom. Education is not longer one-sided. We are forced to work together as teachers and students to provide the best experience out of our circumstances, and I think this video is a good resource.

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