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tiredannie tiredannie is offline
Joined: Oct 2016
Posts: 17
New Member

Joined: Oct 2016
Posts: 17
New Member
The anxiety excuse
Old 08-24-2019, 07:25 PM
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Ok, so I'm two weeks into my new teaching job at a new district. I'm loving the support from my principal, colleagues, and division chair. Compared to my last district, classroom management has been a breeze. Overall, students are respectful and courteous. While my current school isn't perfect--it's definitely better than my previous teaching situation. There are so many pros to my new job and I do believe I made the right decision to switch districts. With that being said, I've already noticed something about the culture of this school that is getting under my skin--students and parents using "anxiety" as an excuse to be moved from classes and to not do work.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not denying that anxiety is real. Anxiety is definitely a real thing. I know because I've struggled with it on and off since I was a teenager. Being a teacher doesn't help at all, and working at my old district was giving my panic attacks almost daily (which is a big reason why I had to get out of there after four long years). I also have students who truly suffer from anxiety (mainly due to trauma), but you'd never know because they are soldiers who go through each day doing their very best. They never say, "I can't do this because I have anxiety."

What I'm referring to are the people who don't really have anxiety, but use it as an excuse because they know that the school won't question it. Thus, they get to have extensions on assignments, are able to opt out of assignments, and are even able to switch teachers because they claim they have anxiety. This is frustrating for me and for students who truly suffer from it.

I had a student drop my AP class because she said the first homework assignment gave her anxiety. Mind you, all they had to do was read an article (about a 10 minute read) and formulate one talking point to post to Google Classroom and to discuss during the next class session. Another teacher in my department experienced a mom calling the principal and demanding that her daughter be moved to another English class because the teacher gave her daughter anxiety. When the principal asked for her to be more specific, she said that the teacher gave her daughter a low grade on the first writing assignment of the year, which caused her daughter anxiety. Even though the teacher said the writing assignment was able to be revised and resubmitted for an increased grade, the mom was adamant that her daughter be moved to another teacher's classroom. Apparently, she wanted her moved to a certain teacher's class because the teacher has a reputation for being an easy grader (and not very challenging). Her demand was granted.

Students are falling apart at the seams when they are required to do work, when they encounter a challenge, or when they receive critiques. It's crazy. And the parents are worse. Instead of supporting their child by encouraging them to work harder and to utilize resources that will help them to become stronger students, the parents are taking issue with the school/teachers and giving excuses as to why their kid should have special treatment.

We did an activity in my sophomore English class revolving around developing a growth mindset and learning how to persevere when we encounter challenges. It was during our class discussion that I had several students express their frustration with peers who throw around excuses to underachieve--specifically the anxiety excuse. I was not only impressed by their maturity and insight, but I became curious as to why this issue isn't being addressed on a larger scale within the district.

Has anyone else experienced this at their schools? How are you dealing with it? I really think that this is coming from the parents--not the students. Nonetheless, it is still a problem. The education system has so many issues, but one that needs to be discussed more often is the lack of student resilience and grit, as well as the web of excuses that parents and students create in order to take the easy way out.

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