We’ve had more than 250 days of Covid madness if you start the count on Friday, March 13, 2020. In challenging times, I always try to write out my feelings to cope, but these times are so weird that it can be hard to capture things in words. How do I start?
How do I tell all of you that these are the worst of times but the best of times, too? I know we are all experiencing that duality. I feel mixed emotions — I am worried, yet inspired by how teachers and administrators have been working together to do the impossible.
Adapting with Compassion
I am a PhD-prepared psychologist, but I find myself taking temperatures of kids in the mornings, donning an orange-colored jacket and holding an orange wand. The children are so very sweet and thank us for taking their temps. I love that. I also do traffic control, equipped with a walkie-talkie at pickup at the end of the day. I get to see the kids in a different way, and take time to wave to and chat briefly with their parents. That is the silver lining. We, as educators, are donning so many hats now it would make anyone dizzy. Flexibility is a must.
These days, opinions swirl about whether school should be held in-person or online — including how to achieve what’s best for students’ social-emotional learning and their physical safety. With no perfect balance in sight, I am taking one day at a time.
I know lots of educators are tired and stressed and scared. As educators, we are on the front lines of the uncertainty, trying to keep some normalcy for our children. It seems some in society have forgotten that.
But not everyone has forgotten. Recently at pickup time, a few parents were wearing masks on which they’d written: “Thank you to our teachers.” That simple gesture of gratitude brought tears to my eyes. I wish all teachers could have seen the display firsthand, but I am spreading the word. So please remember that saying “thank you” goes a long way — not just to educators, but to everyone: the coffee shop employee, the grocery store clerk, members of your community.
I am proud of my school community, especially the middle school where I work. We are collegial and so supportive of one another. It is amazing when I consider that we are all a bit brain-dead from dealing with the chronic stress.
In these not-normal times, educators cannot do all the normal things we would usually do. Whether students learn in-person or virtually, teachers want to support them academically and emotionally — as they have always done. It is hard not to be able to do it all. But ultimately, we are at war with a virus and must press on until we win.
Be Kind and Careful, Find Humor
During the holiday season, I desire to continue slogging forward with hope and resilience. I wish for teachers to be appreciated beyond measure. I want us to teach our children that following the guidelines protects and lifts up all of us — even if it is not comfortable or fun.
I ask all of us to be grateful. To thank those who are working to help everyone get through this time. To be careful and safe and protect others. To be kind and recognize that we are all less tolerant because of the stress.
I will not tell you to take care of yourself because you have likely heard that ad nauseum, but I will suggest that you try to find something to laugh at occasionally and make someone else laugh, too. Humor is so very palliative.
After all these months, I am tired but still hopeful — because I believe in the human spirit. I believe in educators. And most of all, I believe in our students.