NEWS

Louisiana Tech offers certified counselor’s Zoom talk on reducing anxiety for students, teachers

Aug 30, 2020 | Education, General News, Innovation, Uncategorized

Certified counselor, educator, and inspirational speaker, Jessica Minahan, will speak at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2 through Zoom about reducing students’ anxiety.

Her talk is sponsored by the Louisiana Tech University College of Education, the Science and Technology Education Center (SciTEC), partnerships through Lafayette Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP),  and the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA), as part of its Connect2Success initiative which provides students with opportunities to job shadow, intern, career plan, and develop skills necessary for success in the classroom and career of their choice.

“In the time of COVID-19, and the subsequent societal changes, anxiety has become ever-present in students of all ages,” Minahan said. “It is probable that during a pandemic that heavily impacts everyday life, levels of anxiety in children and teens are even higher, and the possibility of subsequent trauma greater.”

Minahan says teachers are also facing similar concerns. She says her workshop will provide teachers with information and strategies to reduce anxiety in students, whether in-person or from a distance.

Throughout this year, Minahan urged educators and administrators to be thoughtful with curriculum choices and be flexible with content when possible. She says it’s also important to prioritize student’s mental health.

“We are grateful for Ms. Minahan for her willingness to share her expertise with our preservice educators and psychology and behavioral sciences students at Louisiana Tech University, our district education partners, and our GEAR UP partners statewide. We are incredibly excited about hosting the informative virtual session for our stakeholders during a period when teachers and students are navigating so many complex and unprecedented circumstances,” said Dr. Lindsey Vincent, Associate Dean for Research, Outreach, and Innovation.

“Now, more than ever, it is important to understand how to support our students and families holistically,” said Dr. Tireka Cobb, director of field outreach services for LOSFA and Louisiana GEAR UP.

Dr. Mary Margaret Livingston, Roger Thomas Luffey Endowed Professor in the psychology and behavioral sciences department, said even as parents and teachers deal with their own challenges, they truly want to help their stressed-out students, and Minahan offers help.

“Teachers need strategies that can work without adding to the burden or the enormous pressure they already encounter,” Livingston said. “A student’s experience this year will impact future achievement, school retention and general well- being. Emotional and physical health promote learning, further success in school, and outside in the home and community. Having a tool kit to address anxiety is particularly important now. Minahan offers simple, realistic, do-able, proven research-based solutions and a lifeline to mental health.”

Dr. Donna Thomas, chair of the psychology and behavioral sciences department, reinforced why it’s important to have resources on how to help children feel safe and secure.

“Many people associate childhood with being carefree, so it’s easy to forget that children may be as vulnerable as adults to fear and anxiety,” Thomas said.

Minahan suggests teachers connect with each student by sending them individual messages, speaking each student’s name during synchronous lessons, offering emotional check-ins – and knowing how to respond with negative check-in responses.

“If we ask a high school student who is getting angry and becoming agitated to take a walk, he may ruminate the whole time and return just as angry. Sending a first grader to a ‘calming chair’ can leave her to perseverate on worrying thoughts. Instead, we need to help them ‘change the channel.’  Teach students that their brains are like a remote control that they are stuck on a negative thought and they need to ‘switch the channel’ to calm down.”

For registration and Zoom information, email scitec@latech.edu.