By the time students reach senior year classrooms, we educators tend to give them a little more freedom than we do their younger schoolmates. Freshmen and sophomores are still coming into their own as people. Juniors are on the cusp. Seniors, however, are the adults of the high school world. They have their stuff together, right?
Of course not. How many adults have all their stuff together on the cusp of a life-changing event like graduating from high school? It is certainly up to parents and guardians to help their seniors prep for this final year of school and all that goes with it. As the next semester looms, it’s also a responsibility of teachers to help their kids be successful. That’s part of the job description, isn’t it?
How, then, can teachers help seniors prep for a rewarding end to their high school career? Let’s look at a few ways:
Encourage Personal Care
While it’s been a few years since I was in front of the classroom, I clearly remember many a stressed senior, especially after the start of the second semesters. There are pressures mounting from all sides and from their own anxieties.
Teachers are often with students for longer periods of time than the students’ parents and guardians. Because of this, teachers should encourage their seniors to practice self-care, which is “not selfish or self-indulgent,” according to this resource from Case Western Reserve University. Instead, it’s a means taking care of one’s own needs first because, as the resource continues, “We cannot nurture others from a dry well.”
We cannot, in turn, expect students to perform well in class if they aren’t taking care of themselves. Managing stress is not only a school skill, it’s a life skill. If you have students who are reluctant to talk to a familiar adult, like you or the school counselor, point them toward a technological answer: Talkspace. Talkspace is just one of many texting-based counseling apps, and today’s seniors are both more technically inclined than previous classes and more inclined to share concerns with strangers than with those they know personally.
Encourage Extra Help
I’ve worked with some teachers who dislike having their students seek out extra help, but this does a disservice to many parties. Students should always feel comfortable asking for help, especially from their classmates. In turn, classmates who offer help to their classmates are learning valuable skills as well. To teach is to learn, or many of us wouldn’t have entered the profession otherwise.
At the same time, not every student who wants or needs auxiliary help is going to actively seek out that assistance. For the students who could use a leg up their senior year, work with their parents to find a professional tutor. Students who want a less intimate but no less effective means of getting academic help can also find tutors online.
Students who are highly motivated to seek help and earn good grades are usually also the ones who are motivated to continue their educations. However, even the best academic counselor can’t prepare a college-bound senior for everything. There are plenty of things we wish we’d known about student loans before we took them, such as knowing the rules and regulations of individual loan servicers. Teachers should share these words of wisdom with their students.
The final semester of any high school student’s career is fraught with stress. Their workload increases, often both in and outside the classroom, as they prepare for life after graduation. Some will head to college, others straight into a profession. Offer them tips and tools to manage their senioritis. We’ve all been there, too.