Ep. 32: School Check-In

Ep. 32: School Check-In

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Summary:
Join the Teen Life Podcast as we explore the kinds of grief, anxiety and other issues students are dealing with this year. School counselors and specialists weigh in on current trends to be aware of, how we can support our schools and what kinds of coping mechanisms we can teach kids and teens.

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If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

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Back to Basics

Back to Basics

Anyone else feel overwhelmed right now? Or, just a little whelmed? Bad jokes aside, we find ourselves at a point of history where everything is rushing to come back to “normal.” While spending a lot of time apart, all the sudden our calendars are full and the phone is ringing off the hook.

I know for me and my family, we are feeling the squeeze. After the spring and summer of 2020 and the odd last school year, enough time passed where we got used to the “new normal”. Now the “old normal” comes charging in and wants to be in charge. With these two realities competing for attention, it is hard to adjust.

The last time I wrote for the Teen Life blog, I described a phenomenon called languishing that described so many of us. It wasn’t depression and it wasn’t elation, but something kind of in the middle. We were slogging towards something, but we really didn’t know what it was. Now I think for many of us who are school adjacent, we are experiencing less languishing and more whiplash. It’s like we have been asked to re-join pre-pandemic life, and with no time to waste.

This can feel a bit like going on a long run without stretching first. And I know if I’m feeling this way, our students are as well. In fact, so many of our school-based partners are reporting their students are struggling more than ever. Many kids haven’t been on a school campus in a year and a half, and they are being asked to re-adjust as if nothing ever happened. Talk about overwhelm!

When we feel like this, the world gets really tight. It can be hard to function or even make basic decisions. Overwhelm feels suffocating and it’s hard to achieve academically, let alone have a healthy social/emotional life. We need a different tactic.

Both my boys are baseball players and have recently experienced hitting slumps. It’s so hard to see them swing and miss over and over and feel the frustration of not being able to hit. They have well-meaning coaches who help them adjust or make tweaks, but the more coaching happens, the more they tighten up. It’s a cycle that’s hard to break out of.

But one of the really effective tactics I hear from coaches who work with elite baseball players is quite counterintuitive. They say instead of more adjustments, to go with something much more simple.

The tee.

That’s right. Even elite level hitters find their way back to hitting a ball off the tee to get out of a slump. Can you imagine? When you think of a baseball tee you think about a little four year old learning to hit. But the idea is, we want to get back to what got us here to begin with.

Feeling the ball hit the bat. We swing the bat to hit the ball. It couldn’t be more simple than that. The thing is, a slumping hitter has forgotten what it feels like to do the thing they came to do – hit the ball!

With our teens, and ourselves, we need to find what it is that gets us going. With school. With family. With relationships. All of it. What is the basic joy that comes from the things we do?

When we are overwhelmed, what if we took a moment to ask ourselves: “Why am I even doing this?” or “What do I really love about this thing I’m so stressed out about?”

If we are under constant stress we could ask: “What is one thing simple I could do differently that would help with this stress?” or “What can make things just a little better with my stress?”

This seems overly simplistic, but if we are overwhelmed, adding a lot of other things to figure out the overwhelm likely will just make it worse. But if we go back to the basics, or “back to the tee,” we remember what is really important and that is what we can lean into.

So if you are pressing right now, or if it all just seems like too much, find the places in life where you can “go back to the tee.” There you will find what really matters.

Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.

Ep. 21: School Communication & Acronyms

Ep. 21: School Communication & Acronyms

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Summary:
Back to school is its own learning curve. Every. Single. Time. Catch this week’s episode for tips on how to improve communication between teachers and parents and how to make the most of those relationships! We’ll also translate some of the top acronyms teens are using and give you insight into why some teens might seem rude when they’re really suffering from anxiety.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

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Ep. 6: School Life & Memes

Ep. 6: School Life & Memes

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Summary:
It’s not difficult to imagine that mental health has deep-rooted effects on academic achievement. Succeeding at school is as much a health issue as it is a mind-game. Chris and Karlie talk school and how to help students achieve a healthy school life.

Also on this week’s episode, the meme phenomenon. What it is and why people love it.

Don’t miss your chance to get $20 off the Teen Life Summit, May 11-12, 2021 with code podcast20

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

Follow Us

The Trauma of No School

The Trauma of No School

It’s been 8 weeks. Eight weeks since life felt “normal.” Eight weeks since my kids went to school, since my husband and I have been out for a date, since I worked in the same location as my co-workers. Eight weeks filled with fun memories with my husband and kids. Eight weeks filled with hard decisions, fighting siblings, and days spent trying to spin all of the plates. Eight weeks filled with joy and guilt and frustration all mixed together. While eight weeks seems so long, in many ways, I also know that this too will pass. That the hard days will give way to better days.

However, for many students, the last eight weeks have looked very different than for my family and me. Truthfully, traumatic might be a better word to describe it.

I read an NPR article this past week entitled Closed Schools Are Creating More Trauma For Students. This article put into words what so many of us at Teen Life and so many of our school partners are thinking and saying. Closing schools is traumatic for so many of the students that we as facilitators at Teen Life interact with each week. For many of our students, school is one of the few places they feel safe and seen. One of the few places where there is a caring adult who is willing to help when life seems overwhelming. A place where someone is available to help process feelings in contrast to a place where students can be easily triggered.

Between closed schools, social isolation, food scarcity and parental unemployment, the coronavirus pandemic has so destabilized kids’ support systems that the result, counselors say, is genuinely traumatic.

Cory Turner

Closed Schools Are Creating More Trauma For Students (NPR)

Schools provide much needed “check-ins” for students of all ages. Cook Children’s recently reported that they had seen 6 cases of severe child abuse in one week as the stay at home order began, when they typically see that many cases over the span of a month.

So, with all of this potential trauma, what do we do now? Here are a few ideas.

  1. Maintain some level of human connection – Zoom calls, phone calls, FaceTime, MarcoPolo – whatever works for you. This applies to adults and students alike.
  2. Check in with the students you know. Text, call, interact on socials. If you are a parent, take a few extra minutes to talk about what concerns your child has and what they wish for or miss the most.
  3. Normalize the feelings. It’s normal and appropriate to be frustrated or sad or mad. Or to be all of those at once. Help the students you live with and interact with remember that as Franciene Sabens states in the NPR article: “It’s OK to not be OK. I mean, most of the world is not OK right now.”
  4. Lastly, start planning for how to transition back to school, even when that seems an eternity away. Students will still be figuring out what happens next and how has life changed after many months away from “normal.”

“School leaders should right now be planning for the future, asking how they can best support students when they come back to school, Laura Ross, [a middle school counselor in Lawrenceville, Ga] says, “making sure that we’re prepared to deal with some of those feelings that are going to increase — of anxiousness, of grief, of that disconnect that they had for so long.”

Cory Turner

Closed Schools Are Creating More Trauma For Students (NPR)

I cannot tell you if or when life will look like it did before COVID-19. However, we at Teen Life hope that you are able to continue to serve the students in your lives for the next 8 weeks, 8 months, or 8 years despite the trauma experienced and the inevitable challenges that lay ahead today and in the future.

Beth Nichols

Beth Nichols

Program Director

With her background in social work and experience as a mom of 4, Beth’s perspective is invaluable. She has had the opportunity in both her personal and professional life to encounter youth from a variety of situations.