As the school year comes to a close, many educators are realizing that it’s hard to find focus and stay passionate in times of disaster and uncertainty. The speed of school closures and the rapid move to distance learning allowed little time for proper planning and training. Educators weren’t allotted time for reflection on the impact of virtual learning on their students and their own social-emotional health.
The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Collaborative for Social-Emotional and Academic Learning recently surveyed 5,000 teachers and found the five most-mentioned feelings among all teachers were: anxious, fearful, worried, overwhelmed, and sad. Anxiety, by far, was the most frequently mentioned emotion. This is understandable as teachers are not only worried about their students and whether or not they are connecting with them, but now they have to worry about their future in the unpredictable rethinking and reorganization of schools and education systems.
Calvin Mackie, the founder of the non-profit education organization STEM NOLA, experienced similar feelings as an educator during Hurricane Katrina. Based on his experience with uncertainty post-disaster, Mackie has put together three ways to help struggling educators be honest with themselves and develop their next steps. You can find his advice below.
Rediscover your passion: If teaching children and/or education are not your passion, then quit the profession. You, the school, your colleagues and especially the students will be better for it. Your passion was the fire that ignited you to challenge the status quo and bring out the unspeakable hope in the students you instructed. That same passion is within you and must inspire you to find your NEXT Thing, and motivate you to recreate yourself for the post-COVID-19 future.
Become unreasonable: Refuse to accept things as they are – choose instead to push and work for the way things ought to be. It has always been an unreasonable teacher who gets the most out of students. The educator who is loathed and cursed is usually the one who is respected and loved in retrospect by the students. It’s amazing how that works! Now, become unreasonable about your capabilities to unlearn and re-learn. If you are going to remain in the education profession, the post-COVID-19 education landscape will present many challenges but great opportunities to grow, learn, and remake the industry!
Take pride in your profession: This pandemic has forced parents to become their children’s teachers. They now have a greater understanding of the daunting task faced by teachers and a greater appreciation for the skills needed in the profession. It is time for teachers and educators to stand up for their profession and contribution to society. Be proud, and motivate other teachers to feel the impactful contribution they make to our world.