Conquering Test Anxiety

This week we tackled test anxiety in Middle Grades Advisement. Ms. Sotolongo also shared the lesson with the 4th and 5th grade students.

Almost every student has experienced some form of test anxiety at one time or another. You can view the discussion starter video here. The signs of test anxiety are:

  • Physical symptoms: headache, stomachache, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and feeling faint;
  • Emotional symptoms: feelings of fear, helplessness, anger/irritability; and
  • Other symptoms: difficulty concentrating, thinking negatively, comparing yourself to others.

There are several things students can do to prevent and mange test anxiety.

Before the test:

  • Be prepared; don’t cram; make a study schedule and avoid time-drains (TV, video games, etc).
  • Practice calm breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Get a good night’s sleep, at least 9-10 hours.

The day of the test:

  • Recognize you’re feeling anxious.
  • Eat a nutritious breakfast – nothing too sugary that causes an energy crash later.
  • Get to class a little early (feeling rushed makes you anxious).
  • Think positive thoughts – “I know this stuff.”, “I can do this.”, “I’ve studied for this.”, “I don’t have to get every question right.”
  • Don’t pay attention to what others are doing in the testing room.
  • Use calm breathing.

We hope you’ll discuss these strategies with your student so they’ll have a stress-free or almost stress-free exam period.

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Edwards



Our 1st Advisement Lesson on Managing Anxiety

We taught our first middle school Advisement lesson this week on managing anxiety. This was the first of several lessons taught in Learning Labs.

  • 6th – Dr. Johnson, SS
  • 7th – Ms. Snuggs, LA
  • 8th – Mr. Lollis, LA

The main points from this lesson were:

  • It’s normal to feel stressed, worried, and anxious. Everyone has felt this way at times.
  • 25% of youth report feeling very anxious most of the time.
  • There are specific things you can do to help manage anxiety.

You can view the video that started the discussion here. We’d love for you to partner with us as we delve into this topic in middle grades Advisement. Next, we’ll talk about handling test anxiety. If you’re the parent of a student in 4th, 5th, or 9th-12th grades, please feel free to share the lesson with your student.

As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s a good time to consider the benefits of having an “attitude of gratitude.”

Researchers have linked maintaining a thankful attitude with:

  • Improved mental health.
  • Buffers to stress and daily worries.
  • Better physical well-being.

You can adopt an attitude of gratitude by starting a few simple habits.

  • Focus on others.
  • Count your blessings.
  • Keep your thoughts positive.

We’re very thankful that you’re a part of the GOC Family! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Edwards


You Are Here

Have you seen those directories where they have a huge arrow and YOU ARE arrow_blinking_sm_whtHERE? I always feel relieved when I find these, because having a point of reference helps me plan where I’m going.

This week I talked with all the 6th-8th grade students about the time left this semester. We used the calendar below and discussed these points:

  • There are only a few weeks left in the semester, and there’s a sense of satisfaction in knowing you finished strong and did your very best. Get rid of any bad habits that may have creeped in and be sure to have regular sleep and wake times, spend at least an hour in each course each day, and prepare for your final exams.
  • fit_turkey_treadmill_running_sm_whtThanksgiving is almost here! Yay! Spend time with family, giving thanks, but you might be able to use this time to complete a missed, but still open dropbox. If a student is current in his/her course, a teacher will be more willing to allow a missed assignment to be turned in and graded.
  • Some of us experience anxiety, especially when we’re faced with a big test. Knowing the material is the best remedy for test anxiety. You can use this break to begin reviewing for your final exams. You may want to spend 30 minutes each day or 45 minutes every other day looking at old tests, lessons, and study notes.

You can print this calendar, then click here for the Assessment page link and fill in the specific final exam information for your child. If the schedule is not there yet, it will be soon.

We are so thankful that you’ve chosen to share your child with GOC.

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Edwards

Kids and Anxiety

Some news outlets have reported that children today are more anxious than ever. Without hard statistics it’s difficult to prove this, but many in education have seen a rise in anxious students.

Most children outgrow the typical fears and worries, but for some students feelings of anxiousness persist and extend to various settings.

There are different types of anxiety.

  • Being very afraid when away from parents (separation anxiety).
  • Having extreme fear about a specific thing or situation, such as dogs, insects, or going to the doctor (phobias).
  • Being very afraid of school and other places where there are people (social anxiety).
  • Being very worried about the future and about bad things happening (general anxiety).
  • Having repeated episodes of sudden, unexpected, intense fear that come with symptoms like heart pounding, having trouble breathing, or feeling dizzy, shaky, or sweaty (panic disorder).

Sometimes, a student with anxiety will require counseling and/or medication, but the suggestions below can help prevent and moderate the symptoms of anxiety.

  • Recognize and dispute negative thinking. Kids who are anxious tend to awfulize – think the worst will always happen. Help them recognize when they have a negative thought and teach ways to challenge this type of thinking.
  • boy_playing_soccer_sm_whtBe physically active. The CDC recommends at least an hour a day of physical activity.
  • Get enough sleep. The CDC suggests 9-12 hours each night for 6-12 year olds, and  8-10 hours for 13-18 year olds.
  • Eat a healthful diet. It’s best to eat a diet filled with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Bullyproof your environment. Report and stand up against any instances of bullying behavior at school and other peer settings and in social media.
  • Practice stress management. This can include breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and prayer.

We’ll tackle how to handle social anxiety in the coming months in advisement. I’ll blog about our discussions so you can partner with us to help shape are kids into the best THEMSELVES they can be.

Have a great weekend! jamal_playing_in_leaves_with_friend_sm_wht

Dr. Edwards

Happy Fall, Y’all!

It’s hard to believe fall is here when the temps are still in the 80s!

Our GOC families had a great time last night at the Fall Family Festival.




Next week is Gwinnett Great Days of Service. This is an opportunity to show our communities that GOC cares. Please bring in any canned goods, other non-perishable items, and toiletries and place them in the GOC Cares wagon in the lobby.

Thank you and have a great weekend!

Dr. Edwards

Let’s Celebrate!

We love to hear good news from our students! This can include a new merit badge, taking part in a 5K, placing in a geography bee, or winning a medal.

If you’d like to share your student’s good news, send me a small blurb of the event and a picture or two. Click here to see some previous celebrations.

Next week is Virtual Week. This means students will participate in their Learning Labs from home. The students practiced accessing their Online Rooms this week while on campus. We’ll see you virtually next week!

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Edwards

What a week!

Wow! That Irma packed a punch! (Apologies to anyone named, Irma.)

Lots of our students, and even some faculty, were without power and internet this week due to the winds and downed trees caused by Irma. Yet, everyone carried on in a very mature fashion! Students kept in touch with their teachers, attended virtual Learning Labs on Wednesday, and took care of business (i.e. school work) as they slowly regained power.

Getting behind is one of the of the most difficult and frustrating things that can happen to an online student. It’s good to remember a few things:

  • Never suffer in silence! Reach out to your teachers or me if you’re feeling overwhelmed and ask for help.
  • If you’re just a little behind, start with the missed work and move ahead. If you’re WAY behind, it may be best to do the current work first, then go back to the missed work.
  • You may have to put in extra hours, including the weekend, to get caught up this week. You’ll want to take care of everything by this Sunday at midnight. If you were without power several days, talk with your teachers about a further extension, if necessary.
  • Stay Positive! This situation is only temporary. Things will get back to normal soon.

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Edwards



Let’s Get Organized!

If you missed the Parent Support Session this week, this blog post is for you!

We discussed how to train your student to use two tools to stay organized.

The Daily Checklist

Students can use this tool each day to stay on track and avoid skipping around in their courses. This tool will direct students to complete each necessary task within each course before moving on to another one.

Students should start with their hardest subject either first or second in the morning. It’s important to work all the way through each course before moving on to another. Take notes as necessary in each course. Remember that each lesson should take about an hour to complete; that means you are reading EVERY WORD, watching video clips, following links, and taking notes to learn the material being presented. Take a short 15-20 minute break after completing two courses.

The Week at a Glance

To use this tool properly, you’ll need to sit down Sunday evening or Monday morning and look in each of your 6 courses for the entire week. Open up a course, then click on Content, then Course Schedule, then click on the Full Schedule tab.

Now you can see the schedule for each day. It may be that you only need to read the lesson. Often, there is also an assignment (Dropbox, Student Workroom, etc.) required.

Use the key below to indicate what’s due each day.

LL – Learning Lab

DB – dropbox assignment due

SW – student workroom assignment due

If a box is empty that means you still have a lesson to read, but nothing to turn in that particular day. Never skip a lesson!

Your Week at a Glance might look like this:

Week at a galnce sample

Parents and students can view this short video where I discuss these tools.

I gave all the 4th, 5th, and 7th grade students a laminated copy of the Daily Checklist. If you need another one and/or want a laminated copy of the Week at a Glance, please contact me and I’ll send them home with your student next week.

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Edwards


GOC Cares!

Thank you, GOC families, for donating to the Gwinnett Southeast Co-Op!

We’ll provide various service opportunities for our students, families, and staff throughout the year. We’re looking for a way to help Houston and related area students who experienced the devastation of Harvey.

We have two Parent Support sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 9 am. I hope you see you there!

Have a great long weekend!

Tips for Success

Students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades and I spent time this week discussing Tips for Success at GOC.

The major teaching points were:

  • Spend about an hour in each lesson. Complete one course before moving on to another.
  • Read lessons even when there’s no dropbox assigned. NEVER skip a lesson.
  • Start your morning with your most difficult course.
  • Save the Sunday at midnight due date for exceptions (illness, out of town, etc.) The best approach is to always work ahead.
  • Limit distractions by organizing your work area and putting away video games and anything else that might eat up your time.
  • Do reach out for help when you need it. Remember, your teachers and I are only an email or call away!

The 4th and 5th grade students enjoyed watching a video explaining these tips, featuring our very own Mr. S. You can watch it here.

Remember, 4th and 5th grade parents, there’s another Parent tech session on Monday with Ms. Cote.


In 6th grade, we talked about these tips and Being the New Kid. Here’s what we discussed for managing the new-kid status.

1. Be nice to everyone. You never know who might become your new BFF, so always be a little kinder than you have to be.giving_a_may_day_basket_md_wht

2. Don’t be afraid to try new things! Sit in a different seat in learning labs and get to know new kids. Join student leadership and come to the Rich Experiences!

3. Do things that lead to success like:

  • asking for help when you need it,
  • reading and following ALL the directions and content in your lessons, and
  • never skipping a lesson.

4. Be confident in yourself. Recognize that you’re already learned A LOT of new woman_surfing_computer_mouse_md_whtthings. Just think about the new tech skills you’ve acquired! You’ve come a long way, baby!

5. It’s okay to miss your old friends. Stay in touch with them and plan a time to get together.

6. Be optimistic and expect good things to happen. Expect to do well academically and socially at GOC! Positive thinking leads to positive action.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to shaking off the new-kid feeling and feel right at home school!

I’ll often share the major teaching points from my counseling and advisement lessons so you can reinforce the teaching points and skills at home.

Thank you for partnering with us to teach your child. It’s going to be a great year!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Dr. Edwards