Anxiety in the classroom: a growing concern

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Meredith, Kelli F.
This research design has been developed with current literature in mind, around the topics of anxiety and mental health for school aged children and youth. Autoethnography was used in conjunction with a thorough review of literature, in order to connect my own personal experiences growing up with anxiety and mental illness, to the broader culture. The primary objective of this design project and research study was to engage both learners and educators in discussion around mental illness. Utilizing my past stories, in the form of a wordless picture book, along with a resource guide for educators to use with learners, was the way in which I hoped to meet this objective. The literature around child and youth mental health is very clear. Anxiety and mental illness is a growing concern in our classrooms, school communities, and society in general (Thompson, Robertson, Curtis & Frick, 2013). In British Columbia, with our most recent curriculum implementation in 2017, the Ministry of Education has placed a significant importance on the topic of mental health, beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through to graduation. Although mental health and wellness is now woven throughout our curriculum in British Columbia, this does not mean that educators feel equipped to present this information, or even engage in discussions around this topic, with their learners. My hope with this research design project was to build upon the current dialogue around anxiety and mental health within our school communities. As educators, we need a place to begin. A tangible starting point can help diminish the hesitancy and lack of confidence when broaching a new topic with learners. This design project was intended to be just that; one small stepping stone on the path to better understand, recognize, and support those who struggle with mental illness within our classrooms.
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