This is the time of year when—typically—field trips would be taken, end-of-year parties would commence, and movies would be watched in dark classrooms amid yearbook signing and snacks.
This is not a typical year. Since late March, when the spread of Covid-19 shuttered most classrooms across the country, school has gone remote, creating a new normal for parents, students, and teachers. For this reason, this month’s message centers on three self-care strategies for teachers.
“Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”
From Education Week: “Children may be resilient, but they’re going to have a much harder time bouncing back if their caretakers and teachers are too stressed out to function.”
The procedure to secure your own mask before helping others is the emergency policy on airlines for a reason: If you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of anyone else. This goes for oxygen, and, for taking care of yourself physically and mentally during a pandemic.
Edweek.org suggests educators and administrators take time to reflect and rest, temper their expectations, and honestly acknowledge challenges. (Sometimes everything is not fine. And that’s okay.)
Concrete tip: Identify what you need each day—whether it is a three-mile walk, stretch breaks after each hour at the computer, or five minutes of silence with your daily coffee. Prioritize this in your schedule as you would a doctor’s appointment or meeting. Enlist others in your support network to help you get what you need.
“We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm.”Damian Barr
The pandemic has affected Americans differently, both on the level of the individual, and along demographic lines. We cannot assume we know or understand what anyone else is going through. “Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.” (cdc.gov). Knowing this: Give others grace. Assume that everyone is doing the best that they can.
Concrete tip: Check in with friends, family, and colleagues in an open-ended way. Ask how they are doing, and stay curious, present, and accepting of their answers.
“Just Breathe”Pearl Jam
When you find yourself in a stressful situation, start with your breath. IEP Zoom meeting crashed while you were hosting? Four-year-old is interrupting you during your virtual staff meeting… again? Before you do anything (anything!) take a deep breath. And then, go from there. PBS.org puts it simply: “Remain calm and do your best.”
Concrete tip: Try resonant breathing. Inhale for a count of five, and then exhale for a count of five. Practice for one to three minutes daily.