As of today, we have all made it to the March Break and Daylight Savings is just around the corner. The spring can sometimes bring a multitude of minor childhood illnesses that impact school life. Coughs, colds, and occasional fevers are not strangers in most of our homes, as the snow recedes and temperatures fluctuate. When we get over-tired or under stress, these episodes can make learning and concentrating a challenge. But did you know there is a whole host of other “Common Student Diseases (CSD)” that can also plague our children? Left untreated, these ailments can seriously impact student learning.
In her blog, teaching guru Secondary Sara has identified several CSDs that can impact students. They are not documented by the Mayo Clinic yet, but teachers and parents will recognize them immediately (….you may even have suffered from them at times yourself!). While there are several of these maladies, I want to focus on one in particular – what Sara refers to as Procrastinitis (n): Putting off homework or academic tasks until the last minute, and/or not completing them at all, especially on a chronic basis. Yuck!
Symptoms can include sleepiness from staying up too late; fluctuating grades from poor work or inconsistent effort; incomplete, late, or missing assignments; and high levels of stress and anxiety.
Apparently, a proper diagnosis requires that patients admit they have a problem and that their current habits might not be healthy or sustainable. They must also identify the root cause of their struggle. Are they disorganized? Do they need help pacing projects? Do they believe that someone else (!) will do the work for them? Are they overcommitted to an ever-expanding array of activities?
If this sounds like someone you know, take heart. There are treatment options. First, begin treatment immediately. Patients should start their assignment the day they get it! They should make appointments and schedule the necessary steps in a checklist to help keep on track. And finally, they should remember to take their daily medicine (i.e., work on larger tasks a little bit every day, instead of completing it all in one sitting).
When we adjust our clocks ahead this weekend, our students and kids may become susceptible to spring fever, with all its joie de vivre. As we help them keep their focus for the final term, we can all be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of the perennial CSDs identified by Secondary Sara. They are readily recognized and – with a certain degree of creativity, consistency, and candor – readily treated. And don’t forget to be on the watch for these ones, too: Upset Binder, Excessive Talking Syndrome, Silence Infections, The “Whatever” Virus, Low Test Pressure, Sprained Memory, High Test Pressure, High Grades Fever, and The Common Over-Commitment!
Ric Anderson, Head of School