Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Student Burnout...

I think I’m running out of steam. I have to write yet another story for my journalism class, and nothing is appealing to me. This scares me. Writing is usually a no brainer for me, however, this time it’s a daunting task (sorry Prof. Callahan!).

I scan the online newspaper sites to find some sort of current event to rant and rave about, however, I’m distracted by the article on Tom Brady’s current hairstyle and ones throughout the decade (I still say Giselle has her spiny little hands in on why his hair is so long) but I’m not bitter. I vote on which movie is the best romantic film of all time (of course Bridges of Madison County wins over Ghost). I scan Facebook (just because I’m addicted).

I can’t focus. I think about the next day I’ll have off from work, how many weeks left until finals, and the thought of not having to get up at 6:15am on a Saturday to trudge into Algebra class.

I’ve had enough. It’s time for the semester to end. I think what I have is diagnosed as Student Burnout so I decide to investigate.

I find a website called Helpguide.org. They define burnout as “a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.”

Yep. That sounds like me.

It goes on to say, “You may be on the road to burnout if everyday is a bad day, Caring about work or home life seems like a total waste of energy, You’re exhausted all the time, the majority of your day is spent on tasks you fine either mind-numbing dull or overwhelming, or you feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

Now I don’t know about you, but that just defined what most working mothers (single or married) think like on a daily basis, or at least this mother does.

Take that as a hint to call your mother kids.

So, how do we avoid burnout? The Texas A & M University website has a special section in their student resources that outlines ideas to keep burnout at bay. They suggest:
> Recognize the problem. Watch for signs of stress
> Build positive social supports and control negativity in your environment.
> Gain control where you can.
> Quit doing something. In other words, say NO and mean it.
> Use stress-management techniques. Meditate.
> Rest.

Like me, you’re probably saying, “I’m already burnt out! What do I do now?”

Well, About.com has a Top 10 Stress Relief Strategies From Your Inner Child.
1. Daydreaming – taking a mental break to visualize something pleasurable helps deplete stress levels throughout the day.
2. Naps – power naps consisting of 15-20 minutes rejuvenates the mind and body.
3. Hugs – never underestimate the power of a good hug from a loved one.
4. Playing with Pets – studies proven they lower blood pressure better than medication.
5. Singing – loud and proud! Nobody says it has to be on key.
6. Playing Games – playing a quick online game of Boggle or other fun games relieves stress.
7. Drawing, Painting, Sculpting – Grab a coloring book and crayons and feel the stress dissolve!
8. Writing notes – Doodling or journaling helps with keeping focused to tasks.
9. Team Sports – group involvement and exercise can bring down stress levels.
10. Imagining the Future – reminding ourselves of our goals may bring motivation back.

And if that is still not enough, well, there is always chocolate.

Yes, I said chocolate.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate has many health benefits. Included in that list is that it lowers stress levels. According to Life Mojo.com, “Eating a delicious piece of chocolate could possibly reduce stress levels; it works by stimulating the production of endorphin that may give rise to a happy feeling. In addition, the dark chocolate variety contains stimulants such as theobromine and caffeine that are major stimulants.”

So if you can see yourself as I see myself here, try and take a break, take a breath, or maybe just enjoy some sweet, dark chocolate and feel your troubles melt away.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I see you! Stop that texting!

Ok, so now that we’re all familiar with the new state law on texting and driving that went into effect on September 30, 2010 I’d like to address another texting issue that’s happening right here on the Northern Essex Community College campus.

Yep. You guessed it, texting during class. We’ve all done it and probably 90 percent of you who are reading this right now have texted in class at least once.

As I sit in my classes, I periodically look around the room. I observe 50 percent of the people who nonchalantly take out their phones and either check texts or respond to texts during class.

Call me crazy, but this action enflames me.

For one, you’re not as slick as you think you are. People DO notice that you’re texting. Second, vibrate still makes a noise and can or will make others check to see if it was their phone or look at you, which ends up in a 30 second disctraction away from a lesson.

Forgive me if I start to sound like your mother, but, shame on you!

It’s just downright rude.

I have even scolded my own daughter who is a sophmore in college and was texting me during one of her math classes that she had to take over. What she wanted was something that could have waited until the class was over. When I asked her to stop texting me and pay attention, her response was, “It’s not like I don’t know what’s going on.” My response, “Well then I will be expecting an “A” from you in this class.”

The texting stopped.

One professor I interviewed has strict rules about texting in class. I asked Professor Crivaro what her policy was on texting. She responded, “I expect the full attention of my students during the time they are in my class, both for their benefit and that of other students. Those kinds of distractions are detrimental to the class as a whole and, therefore, I have a zero tolerance policy which I clearly spell out on the first day of class. The first offense is a warning and the second is the student will be dropped from the class.” Professor Crivaro takes her lesson time extremely serious since omitting texting will only benefit others in her class.

KUDOS Professor Crivaro!

Other professors aren’t as strict. For example in Professor Stewarts’ syllabus she states to only silence cell phones or pagers as a classroom courtesy.

I wanted some feedback on what students thought of texting in class. So I sent e-mails out to my fellow classmates asking what their thoughts were on this subject. The responses I got were interesting. I was surprised to see the amount of students that actually were against texting in class.

Amy Thompson stated, “I’m against it, I believe you should show your professor/teacher the same respect he/she is showing their class, be attentive, listen and focus on the material not your cellphone.”

While another classmate brought up a point that I overlooked. She stated, “As a mother of an infant I need to be able to text information at times to my child’s caregiver. I would rather not have to leave class to make a call when I can simply send a quick text.”

There is also the opportunity for cheating. One student stated she saw another student text during an exam and later admitted it to her.

With the younger generation being considered a generation that has such a short attention span, I’m thinking that maybe there is something to look at with this issue.

Is this an attention span issue or are students just addicted to texting? Maybe 50 minute classes are too long for them to pay attention. I’m thinking that maybe we could incorporate breaks during class so students can get their texting in.

Sarcastic? You know I am.

As one student stated, “We are in college, not high school. We are paying for education, so we have the right to decide whether we will focus in class or not.”

And a part of me has to agree with her statement, however I ask you to stop and think the next time you send a text.

It could be the one that will cause someone else to lose focus.