The Covid ClassroomSep 13, 2021
"I'm tired — not the normal beginning of the year tired, but the exhausted end of the year tired — and it's only September."
-Christy, a veteran teacher
This is the third school year that has been impacted by COVID.
Teachers have pivoted time and time again to adjust how they teach.
- In the beginning, teachers went from in person learning to creating virtual classrooms at a moment's notice.
- Then they welcomed masked students back into the classroom and adjusted how to teach while socially distancing.
- Now this year, after a seemingly normal summer, teachers once again face teaching masked students with soaring COVID numbers.
Teachers are exhausted!
The divisions between masked and unmasked, vaccinated and unvaccinated are taking a toll on the classroom. Unfortunately, students and teachers are caught in the middle of the battle.
Most teachers would tell you that they simply want to teach their class. Students are struggling academically, socially, and emotionally. Teachers are trying to identify and create plans to address many different obstacles in education.
Teachers have to take care of themselves before they can care for others.
Just like we are reminded on an airplane to put our oxygen mask on first before placing it on someone else, teachers must do the same. It is imperative for teachers to take care of themselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually so they can have the biggest impact in their classroom.
Here are a few suggestions for putting your "oxygen mask on first."
- Sit in the Quiet: We live in a world that is full of noise. Our brains are bombarded with the TV, social media, other people's beliefs and opinions. Very rarely do we experience true silence. It is important to unplug from all the chatter that fills our minds. When are brains are being bombarded it is easy for our brains to jump to conclusions or create worst case scenarios. The silence allows us to become aware of what we are thinking and believing. This awareness can help us get rid of the lies or thoughts that keep our lives in turmoil. A simple way to gain awareness of your thoughts is to simply write them down. Try to set aside 5-10 minutes each day to write down your thoughts. You gain a different perspective when you are able to read your thoughts aloud. As you read your thoughts ask these questions. Is this thought true? Do I like how I feel when I think this thought? Do I want to pick a different thought?
- Allow your emotions to rise to the surface. Rushing from one activity to the next allows little time for us to recognize our emotions. All of our actions come from how we feel. The way we show-up to our family, to our students, to our co-workers all depends on how we feel. How many times to you regret how you spoke harshly to a student, snapped at your child or blasted your husband, but aren't sure why you keep doing it. Stop and ask yourself "how do I feel?" Feelings are identified with ONE word..happy, sad, angry, frustrated, motivated. Once you identify your feeling, ask yourself WHY do you feel this way? Your answer will be a thought you are thinking. Ask, Is this a true thought? Do you like this thought? Do you want to pick a different thought so that you can create a different feeling?
- Fill your mind with goodness. It is easy to be overwhelmed with noise from the world so it is important make sure to balance that noise with the Word of God. The noise of the world fills us with fear, worry, doubt and uncertainty. The Word of God fills us with peace, love, hope and confidence. The Word of God is easy to read and apply to your life. You can start with a certain book of the Bible or start with the readings of the day. However you start, it is important to begin by asking God to open your heart and mind to the message that he wants to share with you. As you read Scripture, allow the words to fill your mind. Don't try too hard, but let God direct you to a certain word, sentence or phrase. Spend time meditating on the words so that God can speak to your heart. Sometimes, the words may not have much meaning as you read them, but God can use them in powerful ways later on just when you need the reminder of how much he loves you.
Don't feel guilty about stopping to focus on yourself. It is only when you are healthy mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually that you can make a difference in the lives of others. It is ok to give yourself permission to take care of YOU!