Date
25 August 2019

Identify barriers to learning and wellbeing, and ways to ease cognitive stress and overload

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘​Supporting inclusive teaching practice before transitioning into the new space’

Ask students what can help

Ask students what can help

Emotion and cognition are inextricably linked in the brain. Ask students what you can do to help them learn.

Consider student perspectives

Consider student perspectives

The ways classrooms are organised and managed can create anxiety for some students.

Discuss possible triggers for anxiety with students and identify ways to reduce them:

  • working in large, open spaces
  • lining up in cramped spaces
  • speaking in front of the class
  • group work
  • changing layout of furniture
  • changing layout of rooms and spaces
  • changes to routine
  • lots of choices
  • unable to see, read, or hear information
  • noise levels
  • bright lights and glare
  • moving around the school with large numbers of people at once.
  • hot seating (no fixed desk).

Reduce students' stress

Reduce students' stress

Emotions vary across subjects, tasks, and times of day. Use these strategies to reduce stress, build a positive emotional environment, and support students to develop emotional resilience.

Understand the affective network

Understand the affective network

Some learners are highly engaged and motivated by spontaneity and novelty, while others are disengaged, even frightened by those aspects, preferring a predictable routine.

To create environments that are safe for all learners, teachers need to:

  • develop a pedagogical understanding and sensitivity to learner differences in order to challenge learners without ridicule or demotivating them
  • ensure the physical or online space where learning takes place contributes to student learning and well-being rather than creating stress
  • adopt approaches that enhance students’ motivation to learn – this includes: using student interest and expertise, providing authentic contexts for learning, and utilising technologies.

To build further understanding, explore the videos and supporting resources from the Alberta UDL Summer Institute 2011 relating to the UDL principle of multiple means of engagement.

Source: Adapted from information from CAST (opens in a new tab/window)

Monitor student overload

Monitor student overload

Students experience cognitive stress and overload when a task or situation is overwhelming. Cognitive fatigue accumulates. The student’s performance may deteriorate as the day progresses, or toward the end of the school week or term.

  • Regularly connect with the student and parents to discuss their workload and what is happening at home.
  • Work with the student, and their family, to prevent overload. For example, negotiate in advance expectations around completion of tasks.
  • Find out what the signs of the student being overloaded are.
  • Find out what triggers overload for the student.
  • Discuss with the student what support they need to self-manage when they are overloaded. For example, use a break card, withdraw to a quiet space, tell the teacher they are overloaded.
  • Agree as a class: how to communicate if something is too hard, how to ask for help, how we look after our friends and recognise when they are stressed, where we can go if we are stressed.

Useful resources

Useful resources

Website

Tiredness in deaf children

Read time: 5 min

Publisher: National Deaf Children's Society

Visit website

The impact of physical design on student outcomes

The impact of physical design on student outcomes

Read time: 94 min

Publisher: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Download PDF

Website

Will my child get lost in an innovative learning environment?

Publisher: CORE Education

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “​Support inclusive teaching practices”:

Return to the guide “Planning innovative learning environments (ILEs)”

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