Student anxiety PD success

Professional development sessions from the IEU, Understanding Student Anxiety, rolled out across NSW, ACT and online in early Term 4. The sessions booked out quickly, with additional online sessions being added to cope with the demand from eager Union members.

The courses were developed with Jesse Booth after surveys indicated that student anxiety and depressive symptoms were a point of stress for our teaching and support staff members.

These courses are part of a strategy to support Union members with PD that is targeted to their need to manage increasingly complex workloads that include diverse student needs.

Booth, the presenter, is a psychologist who has published and presented research on the psychology of resilience and coping strategies in young people.

Her knowledgeable, realistic, and kind approach to discussing the realities of how stress and depression manifests in students had a significant impact on the participants in the sessions.

The course examines what are the symptoms of anxiety and stress, which can often manifest as disengagement or a negative behavioural outburst. The opening activity asks participants to volunteer to stand up and sing a song in front of everyone.

This challenges everyone to a moment of introspection where the various manifestations of reactions to this performance request leads to a loss of willingness to participate, inability to cognitively process the moment and sometimes even lack of awareness of what is happening in the next few moments.

It’s a good reminder of what happens when we put pressure on a stress point of our students without supporting them appropriately to their individual needs.

Up to date information about the way the brain is developing until the mid-twenties is shared in the course, as well as current thinking about what impacts young people’s mental health.

Warning signs as to when to refer a student onwards for more help are discussed, as well as a variety of strategies to use in the classroom to create routines that encourages mental wellness and mindfulness.

Comments from participants included:

“Jesse was excellent. She provided clear and coherent information, highlighting key features and strategies.”

“Fantastic presenter, very knowledgeable and able to answer participants’ questions with ease and detail.”

“I really appreciate the amazing support the Union is offering us with courses to help us meet the NESA Registered hours for accreditation.”

Opportunities for courses on similar themes are being explore for 2019 as well as a version examining 0-5 years children’s anxiety.

Understanding Student Anxiety was recorded and is being re-developed for on-demand, online use as a NESA Registered course in 2019.

Amy Cotton
Professional Officer