Tuesday, 21 June 2016

It's nothing to be ashamed of....

"Anxiety is like having someone hold your head under the water while you try frantically to surface."   Grade 8 Student 

Students know themselves best. We just need to make a point of creating a safe environment condusive to dialogue so they can share their knowledge.  A few weeks ago, I asked some of my students who I know struggle with anxiety if they would be interested in helping me better understand what it is like to be them. Final exams were coming up and I wanted  help them manage the stress that they feel around this time of year.

What started out as an invitation to have lunch together and chat, turned into a series of lunchtime meetings characterized by trust, openess, candour, empathy, and to be honest, a few tears. For four lunchhours, I just sat back and listened. I asked a few questions, but I let my students take the lead. Pretty soon, they were grabbing big sheets of chart paper and drawing out their ideas. Brainstorming ways to describe how they feel when, as they put it, "the world would come crashing down on their shoulders". They soon came to realize that they knew a great deal about anxiety.  They were experts in themselves and they were ready to share their knowledge.

Working together with minimal guidance from myself, my three students built a TED-Ed Lesson on anxiety.  Using the extremely intuitive and simple Adobe Spark Video tool, they wrote and created a short video outlining what anxiety is, briefly outlined some background knowledge for the viewer, and presented a host of strategies they felt were important for people with anxiety to know about.

The result is a video with impact and a lesson that any teacher, parent, or student could use to help better understand what it means to struggle with anxiety.  "Please feel free to use, share or customize Anxiety: Making Peace with Your Enemy for your own needs.

 When you are done, please take a moment to think about how we need to let our students take the lead. Their experiences are powerful, their wisdom profound, and their potential is great.

Let's celebrate their LearnAbilities. Afterall, you never know what kids can do until you let them surprise themselves.