This time of year is especially stressful for a lot of students. Whether it’s college apps stealing mental capacity from seniors, standardized testing taking years off of juniors’ lives, or daylight savings generally confusing the student body, the demanding Pinewood workload can become especially difficult these days. We are lucky enough to have teachers that care about our wellbeing.
Lots of teachers attempt to give students an ease off their workload. However, even though their good intentions of alleviating stress are very appreciated, sometimes their methods have the opposite effect.
Students come into class and the teacher explains, “This class has worked really hard to get through this unit and you all did very well. Also, I know you all have many stressful demands on you right now.
So, we are going to devote one block period to taking it easy and having a little just-for-fun lesson.” I’ve seen this approach a lot. This is followed by watching a movie loosely based on the subject, or reading a just-for-fun article, or having a just-for-fun lab involving food, or doing arts and crafts.
What these activities all have in common in this context is that they are mandatory.
In return for giving up a whole block to the students’ health, the teacher expects the class to respect the chosen stress-relieving activity. They do not want you to just spend the block doing work for other classes.
Unfortunately, this will drive students crazy. They end up blowing through the activity thinking the whole time about how that ninety minutes could do wonders to actually alleviate their stress if only they could be allowed spend it toward what you really need to be doing.
Some will sit distractedly thinking about their other work, while others will try to sneak that other work in, appearing extremely ungrateful. I am writing from a student’s perspective, but in my opinion, a teacher is not giving up control of their students by allowing them to do what they need to do to relieve stress.
If a teacher wants to allow students to relax, they should be allowed to do work for other classes, finish college apps, study for testing, sleep or even watch cat videos on Youtube. If teachers do want to assign a just-for-fun activity, it might be even more appreciated to do this when students are not stressed about their workload.
Again, I have a lot of love for those teachers who put our mental health as students above their curricular plan. That said, here’s another example of teachers giving students a close-but-off opportunity for stress relieving.
The teacher says, “It has been brought to my attention there are lots of big assignments in other classes and many of you are overwhelmed, so I’m going to move the test.” The teacher locates the point of stress, perhaps a huge, grade-breaker test in another class on Wednesday. “So, instead of having our big report due this Wednesday too,” the teacher begins, cueing student excitement, “we’ll have it due on Thursday!” It’s the thought that counts, and this is very appreciated and generous. However, this kind of change does not relieve as much stress as it might seem. Giving the report one extra day is just stretching the same stress one more day. It definitely does depend on the kind of report and how long term it is.
However, many times, pushing the a deadline of a big report to right after a big project in another class is not that different from moving it even a few days. Sometimes the class would even prefer to have the project due sooner.
Something that might dramatically increase the student’s feeling of communication with their teacher is if the teacher asked them to help decide to when the deadline should be moved. Acts of respect and understanding like this are extremely appreciated by students and I believe they are less likely to be abused than teachers often fear.
There is one last policy that more and more teachers are adopting to give students easy points in trade for their attendance. Students are given a handful of extra points at the end of the semester that they lose if they are absent or tardy to a class during that semester.
The intention here is that the extra credit will motivate students to see this teacher’s class as not worth missing. The reality is that sick students force themselves to come to school. I believe that if students are truly sick, it is cruel to take away the points when Pinewood already makes it so difficult to miss a day. It is very fair to take away these points for tardies or unexcused absences, but not for excused absences.
In the end, every little bit of student care given by teachers goes to further prove that the Pinewood community really is the difference.