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Brain Boost or Bust: Stress in our students

Last post we looked at what can cause stress in ourselves, now let’s discuss what this looks

like in our students. Remember our amygdala’s will go into threat mode when they perceive a threat. To our human brains, threat is perceived when we are frustrated or bored or don’t have our basic needs met.

Below are some situations your student might perceive as a threat which produces stress.


  • Text messages from a friend

  • Frequent past mistakes

  • Social media

  • Being called on and not knowing the answer

Basic Needs:

  • Thirsty or hungry

  • Feeling unsafe

  • Staying up too late with technology or studying


  • Doesn’t relate to content

  • Already learned content

  • Doesn’t have foundational knowledge

Remember from the last post, when we are in this threatened state, we can’t access our prefrontal cortex and therefore no learning can occur. The first step is to recognize when we are in threat mode, so just like you did for yourself in the last post, you can have your students do it for themselves. The idea is to track and be aware of when we are stressed or in threat mode. In our next post, we will talk about how to combat the stressors with various types of dopamine boosts.

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