- Michele Lew, a high school special education teacher in the Corona-Norco Unified School District in California, noted an increase in stress, depression and anxiety in many high school students in her district. So, she developed a series of worksheets that can be used as part of a four-step process for building resilience and learning to cope with stress in more positive ways, Lew writes in Edutopia.
- The four steps including teaching students to identify their own stressors, identifying their normal reactions to those stressors, brainstorming other possible responses to these stressors, and learning to apply and maintain those coping skills.
- Helping students learn more about themselves, as well as better ways to react to stressors in their lives, not only sets them up for better academic success, but also empowers them for success in life, Lew said.
All students face anxiety, but their anxiety levels have been increasing in recent years. The rise in student depression and suicide rates is affecting almost every school and is a growing concern for administrators.
Social-emotional learning (SEL) programs can help with this issue. In this article, a special education teacher's worksheets aim to help embed elements of SEL in her interactions with students. Helping students learn to stop and reflect on what they are feeling and consider the appropriate response is another way to teach self-regulation and resiliency in the face of obstacles, skills that many students are lacking.
This article also illustrates the value of listening to colleagues' ideas. While some principals may dismiss the ideas of a special education teacher as applying only to her field, a wise administrator will see the value in sharing these ideas with others. In this case, the teacher-developed worksheets may be relatively simple, but when dealing with social-emotional issues, most students — and adults, for that matter — prefer and respond more effectively to simple explanations, especially in times of crisis.