It’s About Time We Take Care of Ourselves
Testing is coming to an end after a school year full of challenges, emotionally-draining events and constant stress. It’s a good moment to consider and reflect how you and your students are feeling. We talk a lot about social emotional learning but most of us practice very little self-care and mindfulness. We should definitely change that.
I volunteer with two mentoring programs. I’m the lucky mentor to a second-grader and a high school junior. They have completely different backgrounds, go to schools in different school districts and have completely different likes and personalities. Besides the relationship with me, the only thing they have in common is their frustration with school and how they want the school year to end.
The second-grader doesn’t know how to really express her frustration but she completely shuts down when I ask about how school is going. She mentions how she misses her friends and then we pivot into the things she really wants to share with me. The junior talks about her “lost junior year”. She is playing catch-up after a fully virtual beginning (it did not work well for her) and she misses the emotional support from connections with teachers, friends, sports and other extra-curricular experiences. She also understands that there is no turning back. She’s not going to get a do-over.
I’m sure their teachers are noticing their struggles too, and trying to find ways to create a safe and supporting environment that will get them all through this (teachers included). I imagine you’re dealing with similar situations in your own practice so we put together a brief, but hopefully helpful, list of resources for you.
Self-care for you and your students
Check this 3-minute long video with testimonies from Teachers of the Year all over the country about the challenges of taking care of oneself but also some ideas of how to do so. If you’re looking for a short read about why teacher self-care matters, visit the Waterford page. Not only it offers some ideas for you own self-care but also for classroom self-care activities.
If you are have not done it yet, consider incorporating mindfulness to your classroom. Your will find a great article with best practices here, and Edutopia put together a simple list of ideas.
Dealing with trauma
Consider also students that might have been affected by trauma. All of us have been affected in a way or another by the pandemic, but some of us have been definitely affected more than others. I’m one of the lucky ones. I have not lost any of my loved ones to COVID-19 and I still have a job. I have not been affected directly by all the violence and trauma that people of color have to continuously deal with. However, I’m constantly considering how I can support those who have been dealing with all this. Please take a look at this help guide. It contains really good information that any parent, caregiver or educator should take into consideration.
Blog post image citation: Portrait of teachers Elaine Kaszubski, Andrea Ricketts, and Mary Jo Paneff, Martin Luther King, Jr. School, approximately 1972-1973. Picture. Toledo: approx. 1973. Toledo Lucas County Public Library. https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p16007coll33/id/164524/rec/10. (accessed April 21, 2021)