Why are they all so stressed?

In one eight-hour day at school, I had…

-One quiet, male student who revealed in a class discussion that meditation helps get him out of depression, which he has had on and off for a long time.

-One female student who came to me in a flurry asking to go to the nurse because she was having an anxiety attack

-A therapy dog who walked with a student to class and sat down next to the dry erase board. I almost tripped on him during our grammar lesson. The student confidently explained to the class that he helps her through her depression and anxiety.

-One student wearing all black, hid his tired stare behind curls, and explained that he feels like he is living a dream. This world is fake, he asserted. (Wasn’t sure how to respond to that one…)

All of these interactions with students have me worried. What is causing all of the stress? Anxiety? Depression? Are these all simply buzz words? A way to get out of work/class/etc? Or are they founded upon something substantial, and therefore seriously important?

I fear as a teacher I add to the stress. I don’t want to ever give them busy work or make them feel badly about themselves as students. So, I strive to be honest with my feedback and to assign only meaningful homework. But, there’s more to it than that.

In this school, students are required to bring ipads with them everywhere. Type, instead of write; engage them in technology, they say.

So far, what I have seen is students being mostly distracted by the very resources that are supposed to help them. But, when I used the old school method of pen and paper during a recent 4-corners debate about a class novel (“Fahrenheit 451”, ironically), I was observed by my principal/evaluator. She was complementary about my style, pace, lesson…but not my choice of using paper. “Could this be done using their ipads?” She wondered.

I get it. We are supposed to be a paperless school, and technology certainly has its place, but it has got me thinking about whether there is any link between that and the stress level that is so high here.

Maybe not.

Maybe teens have been and always will be this stressed.

But, I hope not.

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