Despite the first rule in my room being do not panic, it has been a week of mass panic for my students. I am not sure why, but this particular week, everything is a crisis. There was nothing major due that the students had not had plenty of time to prepare. In fact, there was no panic about the project presentations that were due this week. But every little detail of every minor grade in my class has been the source of terror and panic. Some of the questions have been over will it be wrong to use a blue highlighter to highlight information about a character in a novel or an orange one? Which one is correct?
Whichever one you want to use. Just write it down someplace so that you do not forget.
One student almost had a meltdown over sticky tabs, and another got so anxious that he actually asked if he needed to put his name on his paper.
Seriously, these seemingly little things have been a source of panic. I mean students meeting me at my classroom door and almost in tears type of panic.
Breathe, people. Just breathe.
I am trying my best to be patient. I get it. They have a ton going on this week. And once they feel out of control and overwhelmed, panic ensues.
They truly are not that much different from adults in that regard. When feel like we are on the receiving end of an avalanche of stuff, we panic. And because we are panicked, everything new that presents itself adds to the level on anxiety.
The important thing is that we stop, breathe, and reassess the situation. When my kids get like this, and even when I get like this, the question always becomes, “what is the next thing I need to do?” Once we have an answer, then do it. Then ask the question again, and do the next thing.
Slowly crossing things off of those to do lists allows us to feel like we have control of something – even the little things – which lessens our anxiety. And the more we can get rid of that anxiety, the less overwhelmed we will be. The less overwhelmed we are, the more functional we can become. We can think more clearly, and the panic ceases.
So do not panic; just do the next thing.