I want you to know first and upmost, YOU are valued. As a former teacher, I know all the work that goes into teaching under typical circumstances. Teaching during this pandemic is far from typical. These are definitely unprecedented times, like nothing that has ever been contemplated before. And here we are, living it. It is so understandable, that this is NOT what you “signed up for.” We cannot expect the same outcomes with remote teaching as there would be with no pandemic. Our drive that we have to be “perfect” is causing many of us to doubt our own competence and abilities. According to a recent survey, one in three of you are in the midst of leaving education all together, considering whether to abandon a career that you all chose, whole-heartedly.
I am in awe of your resilience and ability to adapt to these ever-changing times. It is absolutely amazing! You have transformed your instructional skills to adjust to an in-person setting, with lots of restrictions on how close you can get to your students, how close they can get to each other, safety and health concerns, room arrangement considerations, and at the same time juggle the demands of the students who are not in person. Your technological skills have exploded with a new skillset that enables you to present information virtually and making sure everyone can access it. All while managing academic progress! Your willingness to collaborate with each other is incredible as we navigate these shark-infested waters.
These days, it may feel like the air is silently buzzing – full of angst, worry, and fear. These are trying times for all. Teachers are tasked with being role models, which can be so difficult when we ourselves are overwhelmed with so much unknown. In the spirit of #calmin2020, I wanted to share a couple of suggestions around how you, yourself, can try to stay calm while promoting calmness to those around you. These suggestions are discussed in detail in Lori Desautels’ article “5 Simple Ways to Manage Stress This Year“.
5 SIMPLE WAYS TO FIND CALM
Take some belly breaths. Find a quiet space, get comfy, dim the lights, and put on some relaxing tunes. Breathe in and out, deeply. (Editor’s Note: Have you taken a minute to check out the moon lately? It’s rather calming to look at while taking deep breaths.)
Try a yoga pose. For seasoned yogis, try a shoulder stand. For everyone else, lay down, and try and lift your legs straight up at a 90 degree angle. When your heels are above your heart, magic happens and you will feel your anxiety begin to melt away. (Editor’s Note: Don’t stress on making the perfect pose – ahem – teachers.)
Talk to yourself. Yes, as teachers we talk all day. But do we talk to ourselves? Get a pretty journal (or an extra notebook lying around) and free-write anything that is on your mind. See what comes up – you might surprise yourself on how great it feels to let it all out. (Editor’s Note: Finally, no restrictions!)
Control what you can control. Teachers are problem solvers. It’s in our blood to want to make everything better. Remember that much of what surrounds us is out of our control. In out-of-your-control situations, try to step back and trust in the situation as it unfolds. (Editor’s Note: Sometimes what will be, will be.)
Hum or sing. As Lori Desautels writes in her article, “Humming and singing activate the vagus nerve, a critical nerve that flows from the brain stem throughout most of our body. Activating this nerve basically tells your brain that you are calm and relaxed, while stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to slow your heart rate and respiration and lower your blood pressure. Our voice box is connected to the vagus nerve, so when we hum or sing, we activate this nerve and initiate a calm nervous system response the brain and body.” (Editors Note: We always knew singing in the shower helped cure almost everything, right?)
Teachers, you are continually finding ways to connect with your students and their families, demonstrating amazing empathy and selfless compassion, something we all need to be practicing right now. You are making it possible to live life at a distance as we continue to function as a society. Please know, what you are doing, matters. Not just for your students of today, but for the future. You have my deepest gratitude.
Written by Samantha Brooks, MSE, CDP
Samantha is a Brainspring Instructor.
Brainspring has proudly supported the educational community for more than 25 years.