November sees us wrapping up the term. Often, that means our students are slammed with multiple deadlines and tests. For some of these students, the anxiety of the end-of-term deadlines can be paralyzing.
We find ourselves telling our students to “Work on your project, it’s due soon!” or “Don’t forget to study!” But, ask yourself, when was the last time you taught your students how to work effectively or how to study in addition to telling them to do so? And, when was the last time you told them why they are doing it?
It was not until much later in my teaching career (when I began examining my own health and wellness), that I took the time to really delve into the How’s and Why’s of time management and studying, first with myself and, eventually, with my own students. I cleared my class schedule, and dove into the rabbit hole of neuroscience to discover positive ways to deal with anxiety, effective time management strategies, and the optimal environment for learning,
In retrospect, my dive into health and wellness gave me some of the most important life skills I could pass on to my students.
As a way of saying “Thanks!” and “Welcome!” for giving me your trust and time, below you will find my 4, most-trusted lessons in time management and studying. I hope you will find these lessons useful and share them to your students.
Lessons in Wellness
What Students Should Be Doing and Why
- What: Avoid cramming for a test; rather, study in smaller periods spread out over time.
Why: Studying in short bursts over a long period of time is effective due to repeated retrieval. The act of forgetting information and then remembering it spread out through time leads to durable learning. Studying for 60 minutes spread out over the course of three days is more effective than studying for 60 minutes the night before a test. Cramming the night before a test increases anxiety, which leads to the inability to remember and retain information. Getting a full night’s sleep is imperative to moving information from short- to long-term memory.
- What: Put away phones and devices and clear desks of everything while writing (or studying in class or taking a self-quiz or a test).
Why: Multitasking does not exist. Every time you look at your phone to check a text or to find a new song to listen to, your brain is having to change tasks. Not only does task shifting completely interrupt your thought process and creative flow, it increases your levels on anxiety (which leads to forgetting information) and lowers levels of productivity. That means that you would have to spend longer to complete a task while task shifting than someone who was focused on one task at a time.
- What: Get up and move. Take a body break.
Why: Most of us are not getting enough exercise. The act of exercise releases a brain fertilizer (BDNF) that helps us store memories. Exercise also releases glucose, which is food to our brain. Exercise increases our alertness and focus.
- What: Keep all devices outside the bedroom at night.
Why: Children need eight to 11 hours of sleep per night, depending on their age. Students who unplug and keep devices outside of their room on average get 42 more minutes of sleep per night. Lack of sleep leads to depression, cardiovascular disease, obesity, inattention, and concentration difficulties.