Tuesday, June 8, 2021


(During the summer months, I like to take the alphabet and come up with words and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

I notice that a lot of my high school students are very anxious when they first enter my class. They have spent so many years facing failure and the unknown of the future. After all the many setbacks, I don’t blame them for being filled with anxiety.

My main goal is to help students be successful in my class and in the future.

But how do I define success?

I want them to achieve their goals but first I have to help them make realistic goals. I want them to dream big but achieve the little steps towards a bigger goal. Once they start being successful in achieving smaller goals, they will take bigger risks towards achieving bigger goals.

It is okay to change your dream goal. It isn’t set in stone. I like to tell students that their dream is a living thing and might change as they get older. As they gain more skills, they may decide that they want to do something different with their lives. That is okay.

An error is not a terror. It is okay to make mistakes. As long as you are not hurt and you don’t hurt anyone else, a mistake is not a major thing. Everyone learns from their mistakes. A mistake is actually an opportunity to make changes for improvement. The problem happens when we don’t learn from our mistakes and keep making the same mistakes over and over.

My students have a fear of people making fun of them. They fear that others will see them as stupid and dumb. I work hard at making my classroom a safe place where everyone who makes a mistake can feel safe. When someone makes a mistake on a project, sometimes the class will brainstorm and give suggestions on how to make changes. I explain that more heads are better than one. Once they get in the habit of doing this, students learn to help each other instead of ridiculing each other.

Another way I help students is to explain that our class is like a family. We stick up for each other in and out of the classroom. I don’t mean violence but if we see our classmates being bullied, we stand by them and help them not feel alone. This might mean getting a teacher or administrator also but we don’t let them face adversity by themselves. This can mean a lot to my students who have felt very alone over the previous years.

Once I can get students past the anxiety stage, their learning happens in leaps and bounds. They are open to new learning and willing to try harder. Once they have that little taste of success, they want more.

How do you help students get over anxiety? Please share.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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