This semester I’m trying a new strategy which is to reduce the pressure to be “perfect” on assignments. Recently, I told students to do their best at this given stage but that doing the essay was not a life threatening event. I then added that once they hand the essay in, I’ll give them feedback and then they can make those changes. Furthermore, I told them that what I wanted to see is improvement through the semester so their beginning papers would be baby steps in doing the essay. I could see many faces changed from pure panic to less stress. Some students even leaned back instead of being so far forward I thought they were going to fall. My hope is that if they can feel less stress, they will work more from thinking than from fear. I’ll let you know if this less stress and more thinking strategy pays off.
Do you build in stress or take out stress in your students’ work?