5 Ways to Stay Connected During Challenging Times Caused by COVID-19
By Tracey Smith and Jeff Waller, Authors of Ridiculously Amazing Schools, Creating a Culture Where Everyone Thrives
We have been so heartened by the outpouring of love for our educators. Many of us are realizing now how difficult it is to educate our own children, much less 15, 20 or even 30 children in the classroom. If you are an administrator, teacher, or custodian, please hear this; we miss you, our kids miss you, you are powerful, important, and precious members of society doing its most important work. May no one ever take you for granted again.
We also know many of you are struggling. We have heard stories of teachers missing their children, fearful for students sent home to very difficult circumstances. We have come to realize just how painful this is for YOU – to lose your students. No virtual meetings can take the place of that morning hug, high five or check in, no matter the age or grade. We know you have your own worries, your own children to teach or older parents who are vulnerable. Like us, you are scared. Maybe you don’t feel safe, possibly like us you feel cut off and even a little alone. We have no idea what is going to happen. There is so much uncertainty, and we are unsure when clarity will come.
But remember, we have each other; and we are stronger together. We can be the light for each other. We have talked with educators around the country finding ways to stay connected, to create support structures, and to help one another navigate this difficult and challenging time. Below are some best practices many educational teams are practicing around the country.
Create Tribes – Form virtual grade level or department teams. Use Microsoft Teams or Google Meetup to have daily video and virtual check-ins. For administrators, find other administrators you can connect with, whose shoulder you can cry on, and can help navigate this new temporary world.
Practice Compassion – There are many emotions going through all of us. Make it safe for all of us to “feel” strong emotions right now. Be patient with each other, we are all struggling. Listen to one another, and simply be with each other.
Celebrate Successes – Find ways to celebrate each other. Online bulletin boards, Facebook group pages, or other tools are a great way for people to share online learning successes. They also provide an opportunity to connect and perhaps find joy or humor through this difficult process. The world in a way has hit the reset button on life. Take advantage of this time to reconnect with your family, get outside, and to find the positives that can and will come from this.
Require Self Care – Many educators are working 14 to 16 hours transitioning to this new environment. Structure self-care into each other’s schedule. Set aside time for people to disconnect, exercise, meditate/pray, and do other things that provide balance and a sense of normalcy.
Check-in Often – You never know when a thoughtful call or text may be the difference for someone. Take time each day to reach out to your colleagues. Ask them how they are doing. Tell them you are thinking of them. It is these little acts of thoughtfulness that will ultimately be the thing that makes the biggest difference.
There is an Indian Proverb that says, “Sorrow shared is halved, joy is doubled”. This too will pass, and we will get through this; and we will do it together. Please hang in their educators. Our children need you, as does the world and our future. #EducatorStrong