I receive questions like this from middle and high schoolers, as well as college students. Frankly it has come up too many times in my practice the last year. These students are not alone, yet they think they are.
Why is performance waining? I can speak to this myself. I was able to make it through the first year of this pandemic with the abnormal excretion of cortisol and the adrenaline releases from the stress response.
I made the transition to online when I retired after surviving the transition to zoom teaching. Though I got comfortable with it, zoom learning is not supportive to what I could do when I had face to face connection with my students. I am imagining they are feeling the same thing. That physical connection that included hugs when students were frustrated was crucial for success. My former third graders would often come back in 7th or 8th grade for a needed hug now and then.
Once I retired, I began working hard to bring my strategies to a greater community and was working with a SEO specialist. December first it became clear that no matter how much enthusiasm I had for my work, I no longer had the stamina to maintain the quality of my work and the thought of doing a video for Instagram seemed overwhelming. I stopped working until just this week.
I know that our students have experienced more stress in the last two years than I did in my entire educational experience. The separation from friends, the excessive work that needs to be dialed back, and the screen time is draining our students.
My suggestion to my students is to share what they are experiencing with their teachers. Ask for a lighter load and more time to interact with their classmates. The social is equally important as the academic.
This is the suggestions I have made to students who have sent me this question:
“First of all, you are not alone. Many middle and high schoolers are complaining about being overwhelmed. The best place to start is to make an appointment with your teacher. Share your frustration. If you don’t say anything to teachers, they never know. When one student has a challenge, the likelihood of others struggling is very high. You can be a help to the entire class. Most teachers have no idea how long the homework takes their students, unless someone says something. I suggest you ask the teacher, “I am having trouble getting the homework done and I was wondering if you could suggest how I can manage it?” I would recommend you read the homework completely as soon as it is assigned and identify what you don’t know how to do, ask for time with the teacher to go over the questions you don’t know how to do. If you need more support, IM me and we can talk more about your specific problem.“
I offer the same support to anyone struggling. My goal is to help. It allows me to be of service.
Please share this blog with other struggling students who feel alone.