Think back to when you were a student.
What sort of activities did you do? What kind of classes did you take? Did you join any clubs? Were you dating anyone? Did you hang out with friends on the weekends? What was your homework level like? Did you play any sports?
For most people, being a student wouldn’t necessarily be described as a stress-free time. Being a student can often be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.
On top of all the schoolwork they are assigned, students also have to juggle a social life, work-life, personal growth, and figure out what they want to do for the rest of their life.
No pressure, right?
How to Help Students with Stress Management
While it’s not a teacher's job to be a student’s stress ball, there are a few things teachers can do to help make their academic life more manageable.
1. Cool it on the Busy Work
Before giving out an assignment, ask yourself a few questions:
- Will this benefit my students in the long run?
- Is this a project I would appreciate if I was in their shoes?
- Can my students realistically do this assignment with the other work I’ve given them plus their other classes' workload?
- Will this assignment help my students in their future careers?
- Does this homework help students understand concepts they need to know for exams?
Try to focus the work you give students around what will benefit them in the future. Don’t just give them assignments to check a box. Besides, less busy work for students means less grading for you!
2. Offer Tools and Resources
You are one teacher assigned to 30+ students. That seems like a pretty unfair number, doesn’t it? Seeing as you are human and can’t realistically help every student with every need they have, save yourself some time, and provide students with other resources.
Here are a few things that students may find helpful:
- Lecture slides: students can go back and review the material they learned
- Study guides: students learn a lot during the semester, narrow it down, and focus on what they need to know.
- Online Tutors: students have 24/7 access to tutors for homework help
- Open office hours: Set aside a time where students can visit your office (or in the case of 2020, video chat) to discuss homework, projects, upcoming exams, and anything else on their mind.
3. Assign in Advance
More often than not, students tend to procrastinate their assignments. However, if you give students the chance to finish up their work early, should they choose to do so, it could help alleviate some of their stress.
Assigning homework in advance allows students to plan around their other school work. Doing so keeps their work from piling up too much one week and will enable them to have a balanced workload.
You can even give an extra credit incentive if students finish specific assignments early to encourage students not to procrastinate their work.
4. Avoid the “G” word (Group Work)
We’re not saying you have to avoid group work entirely. However, it can help students not to have so much pressure to do well in group work when their grade depends on it so heavily.
If you do assign group work, don’t weigh the grade so heavily. Depending on other students to do their work on a group project that is weighted heavily is one of the more stressful things students have to manage.
Far too often, some students pull their weight and more in group projects and still don’t get the desired grade because of someone else lacking effort in the group.
Students should not have to worry about managing other people in their group. It’s not their job to give assignments; that’s the teacher’s responsibility.
5. Drop lowest grades like it’s hot
Another great thing teachers can do to alleviate students' stress is to offer to drop 1-2 of the lowest grades a student gets.
This grace period allows students to be, well, human! Everyone has an off day, and even the best students that study hard will have one of those. Perhaps they get sick, are mourning the death of a loved one, is going through a breakup, you name it. No matter how hard they studied for an assignment, they are likely to struggle to do their best work, given their circumstance doesn’t match their norm.
So, offer to drop a few of their lowest scores at the end of the semester. Give them a chance to make mistakes and have off days without it seriously affecting their grade.
6. Know what the school offers for stress management
Does your school offer mental health services for students like group therapy? How about counseling, a quiet room, or meditation classes?
Helping your students be aware of the school’s stress management programs is a great way to help them. Even doing something as simple as creating a document with all the information to contact school resources is a massive help to students.
Reaching out to the school counselors is a great starting point to discover what your school offers students for stress relief.
7. Respond to emails ASAP
We get it, being near your computer 24/7 is neither ideal nor fun to repeatedly answer emails. But students need to hear from you sooner rather than later.
So here’s our solution for you:
Consider setting up an automatic email that can be sent to your students when they send you an email. This automated email can include a few resources like:
- The syllabus (often students can find the answer they’re looking for in there)
- Lecture slide pdf
- Youtube videos that further explain topics discussed in class (Khan Academy is a great source)
- Contact emails for tutors or TA’s
Less stressed students = less stressed teachers
When students are less stressed, it affects the teachers positively. It’s a win-win situation! We hope this guide helps you and your students this school year as we all manage the ever-changing education situation during a pandemic.