Updated: Aug 20, 2021
How do you spot a struggling student before they fall? There are definitely signs of stress among today's youth. Many teachers focusing on various content areas have a bond with their students and get little signs that something isn't quite right before the student begins to spiral. When I was a teacher, it was a certain look or lack of eye contact. It was shown through outbursts and change in typical behavior. I did what many teachers do. I asked the student what was wrong. I asked if they wanted to go to the counselor. I felt helpless in the lack of help I could provide them.
According to the OPNA, Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment, survey given to 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grade students in Oklahoma, over 85% of students reported feeling elevated feelings of depression. Many of these students sit in class; they smile; they laugh; they cover up their feeling in numerous ways, but there always remains those little signs. Based on last year's data 1 in 5 students feel hopeless. 1 in 5 feel so depressed they feel like nothing could cheer them up. Even though the 85% number seems alarming, the high need students make up roughly 25% of students with another 25% making up the moderate needs. How does a teacher reach 50% of their students?
The issue as a teacher is knowing the signs and addressing them while maintaining classroom integrity can be challenging. With that, there are new schools of thought regarding mental wellness and the proper approach within schools, especially when teaching trauma experienced youth.
There are many theories about how to reach students experiencing trauma and helping them move to a hope mindset. Dr. Chan Hellman worked with schools and organizations to become more hope centered. In fact, there is a science of hope that can be taught. Hope is not a feeling or emotion, it is a process of thinking that can reshape the "ability to understand the way things are right now in your life, and that you can begin to imagine the way life could be."
Union's Virtual Calming Room filled with FREE Resources
Today's highlight is Union Independent School District with the creation of their Virtual Calming Room. There will be a new highlight every Monday to help families.
What do you find in this Virtual Calming Room? From visual relaxation videos to sound and music, diving deep into different modalities of FREE assistance to deal with anxiety other feelings of despair. Live images of animals living their daily lives fill the screen and who can resist the oddly relaxing/ satisfying videos? Since this is based in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area the community resources connect directly with that area; however, there are resources right here in Central Oklahoma that we will post this week to help assist with any needs.
Crossroad's EPIC Boxes Brings Tangible Tools Home
One of these resources is created to help students, even if they attend school virtually, or if they are having bouts of anxiety during the upcoming summer vacation. This is the EPIC Box to help students Explore Possibilities in Crossroads. We plan to bring some EPIC Relaxation to youth feeling anxious. If you know a students in need, complete our "Send Something EPIC" form and we will be in touch to sent them some EPIC Relaxation directly to their doorstep.
Within this box are tangible resources to help students with those feelings. From journals to the gooiest, squishiest relaxation ball you will ever experience, this box brings peace into the material world.
With a combination of digital sources and opportunities like the EPIC box, students can move forward with confidence.
Further information about Calming Stations in Irving Middle School and at home will be posted next Monday.