It is that time of the year again in all classrooms around the world – exam silly season! Students and teachers are already preparing for that all-important end of year exams that is the make or break when it comes to achievements.
Unfortunately, as exciting as it may be to wrap up the school year, exam stress is a very real thing that takes over every aspect of a student’s being. The pressures of performing and achieving top marks weigh heavily on the shoulders of our students. Competition amongst each other and of course amongst parents is way more intense than it was a long time ago when we were at school. Over and above all the responsibilities of an educator, teachers are the glue that keeps everything from falling apart and we need to help our students cope with the pressures of performing and achieving.
Students need to fully understand what stress is and how to cope with it. Making them aware of how to recognise stress in themselves and in others will help them handle the situations much better. Every student needs an adult that they can trust and rely on.
Developing a positive student/teacher relationship is critical for reducing stress. Being calm and empathetic is key and students that are at risk need to know that they have a safe space and someone they can call home.
There is nothing more valuable than time management. When people are more organised they have less stress. Allow students to have flexible due dates on assignments. This will lower their anxiety about due dates as well as keep them motivated and on top of their work. It is of the utmost importance to always acknowledge your students’ efforts. You can either recognise their effort by giving them a grade or even extra points. This will ensure that students are always encouraged to take risks, push their potential and persevere.
Just like athletes mentally visualise the movements they’re about to perform, it is important to support your students and help them visualise a successful outcome on their exams. This activates critical motor brain networks. Not only does this activity reduce stress, but it also increases confidence and “preheats” the memory circuits they’ll want to access.
Stress is a silent killer and hijacks the brain when it comes to learning. Therefore, teachers need to be aware of the stress their students are experiencing in the classroom as well as in their personal lives. Be their support structure and make sure you are their safe space! It will do wonders for them and for you!