Are you working with high-achievers? Rather than concerns about motivation and graduation rates, you’re likely worried that your students are too stressed, not getting enough sleep, and will burn out before they even get to college.
Stress is considered a growing epidemic among top performing teens. Teachers can’t be responsible for preventing stress and anxiety, but they can instill the importance of self-management and self-care. High achievers need guidance on when to put those books down, how to say no to too many extra-curriculars, and why it might not be a good idea to take every accelerated class.
Coaching top performers can be tough. No one wants to hold a student back, tell them they can’t do it all, or stop them from participating in something for which they have a genuine interest. Knowing when to step in and who needs help is often not obvious, but it might be necessary.
Fortunately, with good, proactive coaching, teachers might not need to make those tough calls. Or at least they’ll need to make fewer of them. You can help young adults develop the self-awareness and self-management skills they need to make good decisions. That includes knowing how to listen to their bodies as well as their minds.
If you can impart the wisdom of self-awareness and self-management you won’t need to tell a student there is something they can’t do. Instead, you can guide them to their own conclusions about what they can and can’t do (at one time), learn how to make good choices and trade-offs, and get comfortable with imperfect results. Try these strategies to coach your students toward self-awareness and self-management.
Ideas for the Classroom
- Free Pass. Give students a free pass to use once during the semester. It can reduce stress, increase self-awareness, and strengthen the teacher-student relationship.
- Remind Students You Believe in Them. It is natural for every student to feel self-doubt at times, even if they don’t show it. Provide reminders of why you believe in their ability to succeed.
- Allow Extra Time. Anxiety makes it hard to think efficiently which can cause top students to spiral down. When possible, allow students as much time as they need to show their full knowledge.
Teachers can’t do everything for their students. Share these strategies with students and remind them when to use them.
- Must Do vs. Can Do List. Encourage students to break up their task list into “must do” and “can do” categories so they accomplish what is most important and know what to let go.
- Know When You Know It. Top performers need to learn to accurately assess what they know before a test, so they can determine when to study more and when to pack up and get a good night sleep.
- Identify True Interests. Sometimes the strongest students struggle the most to prioritize and identify what they truly enjoy because they do well in many subjects and activities. When they identify what they really want, making trade-offs will be much easier.
Prioritize and store strategies for each student with personalized learning plans. Click here to get started.
For further reading on teens and stress:
Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering from Severe Anxiety (The New York Times Magazine)
Parents Should Avoid Pressuring Students Over Grades, ASU Study Says (Science Magazine)
What Teens Need Most from Their Parents (The Wall Street Journal)
Read more here from our curated collection on anxiety, stress and depression.