Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Steven Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Stress matters, whether you call it stress, pressure, anxiety, or the affective filter.
How stressed your students are will definitely impact their attendance, participation, and their performance on assignments.
Do you know how your students are doing in this regard? How do you know – are you guessing? Or are you finding out too late, during an outburst in class?
Try this: create a very simple online form (I like using Google Forms) that you can send out to all your students on a regular basis – at least weekly. Ask no more than three questions, targeting their stress levels.
What would this data show you about your course, your assignment instructions, your deadlines, and your students’ lives outside of your course?
What might it mean to a student who’s overwhelmed in his personal life, to be able to click that first 5 and know that he’ll get a kind word from you in class?
How would you change these questions to suit your own classroom?