How to Cope with Stress in the Classroom when Students Feel Miserable
There are many important factors that a TEFL or TESOL teacher needs to consider their students when teaching. One of these factors is the stress of their students. Every student has a reason and motivation for wanting to learn and study English. However, this motivation can also come stress to perform with excellence or to learn it at a quick pace. This is stress can easily overwhelm even the brightest and most diligent and passionate of students. While the students themselves will be the final initiators to deal with their stress, there are ways that the teacher can help as well.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Nicholas S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Know how stress looks like
The first thing a teacher can do to help their students with their stress is to properly identify it. Teachers need to be very compassionate and understanding of their role to the students. If a student’s results suddenly plummet, or if the student slowly regresses over some time, or even if a student is less apt to participate than before, the student may be suffering from extreme stress. A compassionate teacher should be able to identify the change in the student, and subsequently take steps to try and help them.
Strategies to conquer stress
There are multiple ways that a teacher can help their student with their stress after it is identified. The teacher can offer more positive encouragement before, during, and after the class. The teacher can also speak with the student in private if allowed to ask them if they need more help or even to ask if everything is okay. The stress may not even have initiated in the classroom but may have been carried over from work or home-related issues. Often the teacher cannot help with these issues, but they can offer positive reinforcement for them learning English and continue to be a mentor and friend to the student.
I had a young adult student in one of my classes. She was very passionate about learning English as a hobby and a way to explore the world. As her teacher, I was very proud of her efforts and merit. One day I noticed her productivity drop and she was struggling more than normal. I was told by our school manager that she was struggling with finances and that problems at home were troubling her as well. I took the time to speak with her after a class and had a simple conversation with her in English. I reassured her that she was doing great in her studies and that I was proud of her as a student. I also told her that she will definitely get better if she keeps working at it and that I was there if she ever needed extra help or had extra questions. As simple as a conversation as it was, she kept coming back to class and she remained very passionate about learning the language.
Understand there can be anticipated problems
As teachers, we may not be able to fix every issue. But we can certainly motivate and encourage our students to keep moving forward. Offering extra help and positive words of advice are always accepted to the student and will prove to the student that not only are you teaching them English, but you are also helping them achieve personal goals. This not only makes you their teacher but their mentor and friend as well. This can help them out in the future classes, knowing that their teacher generally cares about them.
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There are all sorts of ways to help students with their stress of learning English, but I believe that the biggest part is identifying that they have stress, and then encouraging them and helping them through it. A teacher must display their compassion to their students. After all, the teacher is the student’s gateway to success.
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