Today’s blog post was written by Anya, a student at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx, New York.
We are ready and eager to begin our second year as the official Stress and Management Club at the Fieldston School in the Bronx, New York.
Last year we began with a crawl—almost literally—as students sluggishly fell into chairs, whimpering: “I only got three hours of sleep last night” or “I pulled an all-nighter for the second time this week” as if it were a badge of honor or a rite of passage. (If you don’t pull an all-nighter, at least once a semester, how serious a student are you, really?!)
Our focus last year was to offer support (misery loves company) and discover how teens manage their time as opposed to how teens should effectively and efficiently manage their time.
When we think of what can make high school so difficult, more often than not we focus on the curriculum or on a specific class: “Organic Chem is killer” or “Ulysses, really?!” But what we lose sight of is that it’s less about the work itself than it is about our approach to the work, our time, and to ourselves.
Together, we talked about how exhaustion gets in the way of academic performance. We created a group chat to check in with each other and offer encouragement. We initiated texting threads to act as study reminders and serve as a gentle nudge to stop procrastinating.
This year we plan to build on what we learned last year. Here’s what we’ll be working on:
Starting a new school year with resolutions can be dangerous. Doing so, more often than not, means setting yourself up for failure. So instead of resolutions, we’ll talk about proactivity, focusing not on what we did wrong last year, but what we wish we had done instead. We’ll look at major assignments, work on honestly assessing the number of hours, days and weeks necessary to complete large assignments, and mark our calendars accordingly. We’ll discuss scheduling regular office hours meetings with teachers in the classes that are most challenging.
The habits we’ll be working to form constitute repeated behavior that, when repeated frequently, become second nature. We want to establish new, productive habits that become routine.
Last year we identified the most common (bad) habit we all shared: going to bed too late. Research has shown that sleep deprivation wreaks havoc with both short and long-term memory. We’ll create a club mantra to remind us that consistently getting to sleep by 11:00 (11:30 latest) can make the difference between a B+ and an A-, more than staying up the extra hour (or two, or three) to cram information that likely won’t stick.
Additionally, we’ll link the need for scheduling proactivity to creating space for healthy sleep habits.
We’ll discuss choosing a designated spot near the front door to deposit our phones when we get home. For some of us, turning it off and handing it to a parent may be necessary. Others of us have gone as far as to use lock boxes, which removes the possibility of peeking. Whether you choose to put your phone away for an hour, two, or the whole night, is an individual choice.
This approach is what we think makes our club unique. It’s no secret that social media has made self-control massively difficult even for the best-intentioned teens. We will encourage club members to be mindful of hours spent unnecessarily on their phones, to pay attention to “mindless scrolling.” To bond as a group, we will organize “phone free” non-academic outings, mostly on the weekends, for “old-timey” activities like bowling or ice skating.
Our work on time management connects to the root of several inspirED core values: making students feel heard, making students feel motivated, and engaging with uncomfortable emotions like stress. As a club, we aim to identify negative mindsets towards school and schoolwork and encourage planning and finding new ways to approach work.