As we approach that time of year where exams fully take over the lives of students and teachers, we want to remind our teachers how important it is to check in on the people around you and their mental health.
Exams have proven to be extremely stressful within school environments, with more than 80% of headteachers reporting that stress and anxiety among students taking their exams [last] summer was higher than in pre-pandemic years, according to a survey by the Association of School and College Leaders.
What can you do?
Many students are inevitably going to feel stressed, it’s not something you can confidently avoid. However, you should do whatever you can to offer your students support. Students see their teachers as a leading example, and making sure to promote positivity can be more helpful than you think. Be encouraging and understanding, and try to keep a consistent schedule wherever possible: routine can make students feel more at ease, and manage their time wisely when it comes to revision and exam preparation.
Even though schools have been increasingly more open to the mental health discourse in the last few years, there can still be a stigma when it comes to wellbeing and asking for help. Your classroom and school premises should be a safe space: try to encourage your students as much as possible to seek help if the stress gets too intense, and normalise feeling overwhelmed and sharing it with others.
Look after yourself too
Even though it’s essential to take care of the young ones, teachers tend to experience mental health struggles too, and exam season can enhance this. According to Education Support, 78% of [school] staff experience mental health symptoms due to their work. Make sure to focus on your own mental health too, take breaks, don’t let the exam preparation workload overwhelm you, and always keep in mind the students look up to you, so be an example for them to learn from.
Ideas to reduce stress
We recently compiled a list of resources to help you and your students prepare for exams, both academically and psychologically, and advice on how to share this with students and families. Find our list in our previous blog about school resources for exam season. Good luck to you and your students, and remember to always reach out and ask for help if you need it.