Sunday, May 20, 2018

End of Year Stress

I always feel like this is the time of year that we run 100% on adrenaline- there are so many things to do and we're balancing several things at once. The last month of school is filled with so many to-dos, and sometimes we let the tasks overwhelm us and change the way we react and support the students who need us most.  I sent the following message out to staff this morning with hopes of supporting them and our students through this end of year transition.

I am going to make an assumption (based on some observations) that our students are beginning to sense the end of the year is near. We may see students exhibit behaviors that we haven't seen for a while OR new behaviors that leave us wondering. I found an article (linked here) that reminds of WHY this happens and how to support students through this transitional time. 

"These students may begin acting out, appear less focused, and possibly shut down. Also, to adults, youthful fear and anxiety may look like anger."

In addition, the article reminds us of what stress does to the body.

"Under significant stress, the brain becomes hyper-vigilant, hyper-focused, reactive, and emotional. When stress hijacks the emotional limbic brain, we are left in a survival response as the prefrontal cortex shuts down and turns off. The frontal lobe allows us to think through choices and consequences, plan, prioritize, problem solve, and emotionally regulate with focused attention. When a continuous stream of fear, anxiety, and worries seizes our frontal lobes, our ability to think through experiences and challenges is compromised."

I want you to know that I recognize how frustrating behavior management can be at this time of year, but I also want to remind you how important it is to dig deep inside yourself to monitor your response, stay calm (at least on the outside), and ask for support from colleagues or myself if you need it.

I hope this is helpful to all of you. I support you and know how hard you are working. We've got this!

As a follow-up to this message, I am going to begin this week's staff meeting by having them write a letter to their most challenging student.  They will not have to share this letter with anyone, but I'm hoping this process will give educators some quiet time to connect with this student. How do you help staff and students with the end of year stress?

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