Anxiety in the classroom

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Anxiety in the classroom

Caitlin Wilcher, Writer

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a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain


(2) Desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease.

(3) a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.

All of these are some of the definitions of Anxiety, and to me, most of that is only the tip of the iceberg. Anxiety varies from person to person. Some people bounce their knee, tap their fingers, scratch their skin, and grind their teeth.

All of these behaviors are what I myself experience on a day to day basis, walking into school leaves an uneasy feeling deep in my chest. I’m not sure if it’s fear, or if it’s just a general feeling of uneasiness, but it never fails to make me sick to my stomach.

Which brings me to my point, “Anxiety in the classroom,” something almost all of us experience every day, and for those of you who don’t, then kudos. Sometimes it’s as simple as having to speak out in class to answer a question, or it’s as hard as speaking up when you don’t understand the material. Stopping to ask a question may seem simple, but for people with anxiety, the judgment of others could seriously damage their self esteem. So when you groan, sigh, or make any kind of exasperated noise when the lesson has to stop, for just a brief moment for the teacher to explain, just think for a moment how that makes the person that asked the question feel. Just a simple noise you make could send someone into tears or into internal panic. It’s scary to be that person on the receiving end of something like that, it’s soul crushing, you feel stupid, unwanted, and annoying. You just feel like…Less.

That’s just one of the downfalls or difficulties, but the worst possible thing a teacher could make you do is present. You’re placed at the front of the classroom and made to speak publicly, it’s terrifying! All of those eyes on you while you read from a presentation that you worked hard on and when you tell the teacher that you really don’t want to, they’ll dock your grade. Social anxiety is a thing! It is very real; it’s possibly the worst thing that a teacher can make you do. Honestly I have sympathy for the people that just can’t do it, that can not get up there and feel judged by their ‘friends’.

Teachers absolutely need to consider how they’re possibly hurting the student  emotionally. I urge teachers to recognize that some students are having a hard time in class, not because they are bad students, but because they’re afraid to ask questions or afraid to speak up. Every teacher needs to recognize the signs of social anxiety. Students need to find someone they can trust or students need to help support each other.