Author: Dawn Mitchell
As we reflect on our second week of teaching remotely, I want to tell you how very proud I am of the many ways you have worked to meet your students’ needs during this time. It is a major misconception that schools and educators serve only to provide instruction to students in our community. We provide much more than that. For many of our students, we are their source of meals, of safety and of security, and of their budding identity whether that be an artist or an athlete, a singer or a dancer, etc. We are also a source of safety and stability for them, not just in the physical space of our school buildings when they are present with us but also socially and emotionally. When they are upset or afraid or worried, many times we are the ones that comfort them during the school day.
We also serve as role models during times of stress or fear providing a positive example for how to conduct yourself during times of uncertainty. I am so very thankful that we have the opportunity to be a voice of calm and comfort to our students and to be the steady and the strong for them when they need it most.
As much as our students need us, I know that you are human, too. As educators, we also are treading into new waters, and I want you to know that we are here for you as well. While I may not have answers, I assure you that I will be here to listen and to help you figure out your next steps with your students. Yesterday, I read an excellent article by Ed Surge called Teacher Interrupted: Leaning into Social Emotional Learning Amid the Covid19 Virus. It provided several excellent reminders and checks for us to do to support ourselves, our students, and our families. Check out the list below:
First, check in with how you are feeling a few times per day. Avoid judging your own and others’ emotions. From an emotional intelligence perspective, all emotions are information. Accept them all. They are information to be attended to, not denied.
Be kind to yourself and flexible (as permitted) with your schedule. Look for easy and small ways to bring yourself and your loved ones joy. Make breakfast a different way. Take creative pictures from different angles. Find a new way to organize your closet. Call old friends and family members to check-in. Try a new exercise routine at home.
There also are things you can monitor carefully, including your media consumption. Digital platforms are pretty incredible at enabling us to connect with people in a socially distant world. We have perhaps never been more prepared to practice social distancing as we are today. But keep in mind there are over two decades of research correlating social media usage with loneliness, depression and unhealthy behaviors including addiction. After using technology, ask yourself this question: Is this helping me feel greater well-being and connection, or is it making me feel more isolated? Find the “tech” routine that works for you and your family. And leverage resources and expertise across networks for support.
If the thought of being home for a couple of weeks or months—or returning back to school—is overwhelming, take a meta-moment. Try to imagine your best self—visualize a positive image of yourself, who you want to be and how you want to be seen and experienced by your family and students. And in each of your interactions, whether face-to-face at home or when connecting with others through technology, try to be that person for your students, for your families, for your community.
I really like how the authors, Dr. Cipriano and Dr. Brackett, end this article, and I want to leave you with their words. “While the world is turned on its head, we have the opportunity to leverage the power of emotional intelligence to keep our feet on the ground and our minds directed toward building the future that we want for our students and ourselves. We can’t control what has happened, but we can control how we respond to what is happening. Give yourself and everyone around you the permission to feel all emotions. It starts and ends with self- and social-compassion.”
South Carolina ASCD President