Aromatherapy to success
As a public school educator the pressures of testing are real. Preparation for these exams seem to start earlier and earlier and the tests get longer and longer. While the stress to use may be real, it is the students who feel it the most. In recent years, I have developed an aromatherapy plan to energize, calm, and focus my students. While I have not done any scientific research on this, I do find my results conclusive. Below are the various steps I take in my classroom to help settle my students into their exam.
When students enter into the classroom in the morning there are either one or two scenarios. Students are lethargic. It takes them twice as much time to get to their seats. On the other hand there is a frantic buzz around the room because students are nervous about the upcoming test. For the first senario, I spray a citrus scented air freshener. Currently, I am using the limited edition Glade Soho Social, which is citrus and mimosa. It is both sweet and tart. It tickles the nose while perking up students. Finding citrus room sprays and air fresheners is more difficult than one would expect. If you know of any good options, comment below (please!). For the later senario, I use a lavender spray. This helps to relax the students and focus their minds. You Are Amazing Final Spritz in Lavender Fields ($4) is actually a body spray, but its wide spray works great as a substitute room spray. It is light and is just enough that it does not distract students. The results are almost instantaneous.
After our whole class foes to the bathroom, they come back to the room and continue reading or working on sudoku and word searches to keep their minds active. Since they use drying sanitizer, I start off by distributing a nourishing, citrus lotion. When I pull out the lotion, I see smiles crack on my students' faces since they love the intoxicating aroma. In my current rotation is Soap & Glory's Orangeism Body Butter ($15), which some students find a bit too greasy, so they abstain from it. In the past I used, You Are Amazing in Lemon Meringue ($4) body lotion. A little goes a long way. I often find students rubbing it into their forearms. The students love the smell and do not realize it is getting them energized for the exam.
It might seem overwhelming, but I will also use roll on fragrance too. For those students who opt out of the lotion, they still get the benefits. I am down to my last drops of my Pacifica Roll on in Tuscan Blood Orange ($12). It is a mellow citrus that has notes that mellow out the citrus notes. I mix it with a variety of other Pacifica Roll Ons for a wide range of fragrance options.
For specific students who cannot break their yawns and tiredness, the best option is a mint. I do not like gum in the classroom, because it inevitably ends under the desk. However, a strong, fresh mint lifesaver does the trick. You can order them in bulk from Amazon or pick them up at Costco. There are smaller bags at the grocery store or drug store. According to some students these are spicy, so your good ole fashioned peppermint grandma candies are a bit milder.
These are all pre-test tricks I like to use to set the tone right. However, during an untimed test there is little I can really do to change the energy in the room. Students are allowed to take body breaks and get water, but when we are deep into the test, I raise the blinds. The burst of natural light give my students the perk me up they need. It is insane how allowing for more light to come into the room revs up the students. One might think, why don't you start the test with the blinds up? The students start off with a ton of vim and vigor, but the steam dies down. Once the blinds go up, the engines start to pick up speed.
Regardless, if my tricks work or not, I know my students look forward to them. This helps them to ease their mind and help them focus on these high stakes tests. Anything, I can do to help my students focus and not feel stressed and defeated by these tests are my ultimate goal.
*When choosing to incorporate these practices into your classroom, you need to make sure that students do not have any allergies and that school policies are not violated.