Day-to-day classroom life can be stressful for some kids. Students who are anxious about their learning abilities, school, homework, class participation, or almost anything will have an elevated level of cortisol. In some cases, cortisol can be a good thing, but elevated levels of it can impair cognitive functioning, which is not ideal for a classroom environment. And when students are under stress, changes occur in the brain that can actually prohibit learning.
Educators can reduce stress in the classroom by becoming more aware of how their behavior affects their students and by working to counteract the effects of outside stress that may hinder classroom performance.
Tips for Reducing Stress in Your Classroom
1. Be aware of your physical surroundings. Try to reduce classroom clutter and decor that students might find too distracting. A classroom space should never feel busy or messy.
2. Post a daily or weekly schedule. Letting students know what to expect each day is a great idea for reducing stress in your classroom, especially for “worriers” or students who might feel anxiety about not being prepared for a lesson.
3. Give students breaks to process new information. Teachers have a lot of information to cover and not a lot of time to do it in, but giving your students a brain break to let new concepts settle in before beginning the next lesson is essential.
4. Maintain a positive learning environment. A classroom should be a safe space where students feel comfortable asking questions and participating in class. Remember that it’s not always easy for students to speak aloud in class.
5. Talk about it. Feeling stressed in inevitable. Help prepare students by teaching them how to prevent or best deal with stressful situations when they arise. Talk about time management, getting enough sleep, and staying organized to help them deal with stressful situations they may encounter.