Day 84 (of 183) if i were to write a book on anxiety & school #blog4mh
So….one of my personal thought/challenges was wondering if I could take my blog/rant on anxiety: https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/day-150-of-188-my-anxiety-rant-edited-continued-blog4mh-anxiety/ and expand it into a ‘book’ – some more descriptors and examples of what has worked (and why things that should’ve worked didn’t). As part of the challenge put forth by @karencopeland3 via http://championsforcommunitywellness.com I’ve been thinking more and more about this passion topic. I’ve worked with anxious learners since I started teaching and my son has helped enhance my understanding of the anxious brain (he’s been able to answer a few of my theories with specific answers).
So….if I were to begin I think I’d start by evolving each of my rant points into a chapter (honestly I’m envisioning a short read – quick and dirty and relevant)….so here is where I think “the prologue” would start
Prologue Overview (ie not complete):
I have been asked a few times to explain how I handle anxious learners – a growing number ‘are appearing’ in our school (or just being better identified – depending on who you ask…) so over the years I have established and started to share my ‘list for success’ – odds are you’ll find somethings you will hate (I don’t like everything). But it’s not about you, it’s about the learner. I have been using these strategies for years – a long time with my students, and recently with my own son. Not everybody ‘gets it’ …….. yet.
Part of the struggle is trying to be empathetic. It’s very easy to say “I get anxious too”….but it’s not the same. I can still remember the sickness in my stomach when I was getting ready to walk to kindergarten – it was very real. Sure it went away but it was real for the moment. I also remember (grade one) being late and feeling it ‘better’ to turn around and go home (heard the late bell and was close enough to see the school) than face entering the classroom late. My teacher was able to call to me and reassure me that it’s not a big deal to be late and being at school was more important. But that’s just being anxious.
Anxiety – especially generalized anxiety is much more – it’s like comparing a sore throat to esophagus cancer. Yep – I went there….because it’s not a fair comparison even though some of the symptoms may be similar….even if it’s a really sore throat. Anxiety has a lot more to it including the speed of the brain. When a dog barked and my son panicked, I took advantage of the situation by sharing my thinking: I could envision either a dog leaping over the fence and either running at us or defending its property, or a dog on the other side of the fence. I asked how many scenarios he could envision….he struggled at first so I coaxed him – like 10? no dad – you don’t get it. like a hundred? thousand? yeah – that’s closer. He was able to envision everything I did including the dog ripping off his face to the dog running in terror – with the difficulty being “sorting priority of reality”. His brain got stuck.
My brain got stuck too – but not for long. As a 5 year old, I was sick – I had to go to school – I started to feel better; I saw the pattern. My brain got stuck thinking “dog attack” everytime a dog barks – even though I know that 99%+ of the time that’s not what is going to happen. I could sort the reality of what would happen. He helped me understand (and create a visual) about how many images/possibilities he was trying to rank as ‘likely to happen’ – and it’s not the same as what I can do – even though “it should be similar”.
My hope is to share some of the working (and mis-workings) of the anxious brain to help identify some strategies to help these kids be successful in classrooms. Because they can. Honest – they can. But if you are expecting them to act/cope like “everybody else” – that is when things may not go well – for them or for you.