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Students, Starbucks, and Success

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Helping Gifted Students and their Teachers Ease Anxiety BEFORE the Start of the School Year


Before the end of the school year, Jenelle Johnson, English teacher in rural California, created a Google Classroom for her Advanced 10th grade and A.P Literature classes. Students were given their summer assignment and a way to keep in constant contact with her throughout the summer if they had any questions about their assignment or the upcoming school year.

“I’ve noticed that gifted students tend to have a lot more anxiety about their grades.” Says Johnson, 29. She explained that for gifted students, everything it about getting an “A”. Anything that’s less than perfection isn’t good enough. They stress over every point taken off of the grade, and it causes them a lot of stress. Johnson works tirelessly thinking of ways to help ease their anxieties and build their confidence.

As the summer progressed, Johnson continued to receive messages from her students asking for help and more importantly, if she was available to meet in person to go over their work. They wanted her to check it over with them, and help them improve it for the best grade possible. This is when the idea struck her, she would send out a poll on Google Classroom to see if the majority of her students would be interested in something she calls, “Office Hours”, where for one day only, she would make herself available for a four hour period to all students who wanted to come by and go over their summer assignment. The interest in both classes was high. So, she set up a date and time to meet at the local Starbucks

Students were coming by and were better behaved at Starbucks than they’d ever be in a formal classroom setting. She was meeting her students for the upcoming school year for the first time, putting them at ease, and already building a relationship with them of trust. Johnson was able to work with students one on one, give instant feedback, have glorious teaching moments, and set expectations even before the students walked into her classroom. While summer is sacred time for teachers, which Johnson agrees with, she feels that four hours out of the entire summer is more than worth giving to her students, especially after seeing how successful the event was.


Her innovative thinking brought her outside the classroom and provided a new type of learning experience which focused on building confidence and was pressure free for the overly anxious students. Johnson stated that her first summer time “Office Hours” was a success. She will continue to offer this opportunity each summer from here on out. Johnson joyfully explained that it “eases their tension and helped me get excited about the new school year again.” What teacher could ask for more?

More Tips for Teaching Gifted Students

After interviewing her about her “Office Hours”, I followed up with Johnson asking what other tips and tricks she uses for teaching her honors and A.P. classes. She informed me that she likes to use the following strategies:

  1. Keep them in groups- This demographic of students need time to discuss what they’re doing, throw out ideas, and it especially helps students build their confidence

  2. Allow them time to be creative- Gifted students are full of ideas and want the time to implement those ideas. If you provide them with the time there’s no telling what they might come up with.

  3. Give them “Intervention Hours”- Johnson allows time for one hour after school each day where students can come to have their work checked, get help on assignments they were struggling with, and do their make-up work.

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