A Reflection on Anxiety

I try to manage my classroom with as little stress and anxiety as possible.  I do this by:

  • No grades of any kind, just feedback

  • Almost no Homework

  • Collaborate activities and almost n0 competitive elements to the classroom

  • Freedom to opt out of doing anything at anytime (if students don't want to do something, they don't have to)

  • Weekly Free Time periods where they can explore and play whatever they want to

During the past three weeks we have been diving into the world of Graphic Novels and the Elements of a Story.  We have read a heap for pleasure, for analysis, and for research.  We have looked at the characteristics of GN, the art, the speech bubbles, etc.  We researched our own myth from an Ancient Civilization, and then planned and planned.  Plot, theme, character development, narration, setting, time, etc, etc.  We have reams of notes, and have gone through two rough drafts,  and finally are ready to get started on the good copy.  Everyone was very engaged, very interested, and very excited.

However, with that excitement comes anxiety.  Even a very engaging and exploratory style unit of study can lead to feelings of doubt.  My own personal take on it, the students invest so much of themselves, so much of their mind and intellect, that they create a fear of failure within themselves.  If the pressure is not coming from me, or from friends, then it must be self imposed.  I wanted to know where these feelings came from, and after we spoke about nerves as a class, I asked one of the boys in my class to go out in the hall and use my iPhone to reflect on why he was feeling nervous.  His response is wonderful, and made me reflect on what I can do to make this anxiety disappear (or if I can do anything? Or if I should do anything?).

Click on the link to hear the students reflection.

Emi Anxiety Reflection

Keep in mind while listening, that this phenomenon is not only this one child, but we all have kids who feel like this.







  1. I find it a relief - in a way- that I am not the only teacher who noticed this behavior (or rather attitude) in my students. I also found that it is hard for students themselves to articulate the reasons that trigger such reactions.
    It would have been interesting to read the student's response.

  2. Click on the link to listen to it. It is very open and honest.

  3. Thank you (it wasn't there when I replied or I didn't see it).
    From his explanation what stood out was "afraid of making mistakes" which puzzles me (and I am also talking about my students). I created the same class environment as you described above (no competition, no homework etc) and hoped this word would vanish from students' vocabulary, or at least understand that mistakes are part of a healthy learning process.
    Indeed, can we or should we do anything?...


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