Saturday, 14 March 2020

COVID-19 - Feeling overwhelmed? You are not alone.







We are in a pandemic - and I am worried. Not about contracting COVID-19 but about my well being, and the well being of other teacher parents, during school closures due to the pandemic.

Bitmoji ImageYou see, I am a perfectionist. My standards are high - and the ones I often place on myself can be unattainable at times. I know I am not alone in this.

I have watched my Twitter feed explode with people sharing plans of how to support learning from a distance as schools close. I wait in anticipation the plan Ontario government says it will provide in the near future to help navigate these unknown waters. I see article after article touting the latest EdTech companies that have made all premium features free for the next while to support distance learning (like this list or this Wakelet created by my friend Brian Briggs). It is such great stuff!! I get so excited about all that I will be able to do, I begin digitally hoarding, writing pseudo lesson plans for my children and my students in preparation. And then the panic sets in.

The more I read, the more I feel like I am going to do it all wrong. Perfection Paralysis.  The more I know, the less competent I seem to feel. I want to capitalize on all the great things out there. I know the phenomenal learning environment I stand to create for my children. BUT….

I am a teacher, but I am not a homeschooler. When I work at my school I have a live support system. I can bat around ideas with others teaching the same thing, the same kids. I have resources at my disposal. I have a lunch hour, prep time. I have an escape when I go home at the end of the day - a change of pace. With the school closure, I do not.

Teaching our own children is different. I will be dealing with sibling rivalry, keeping kids quiet while my husband (who works on commission) takes phone calls as his office has been socially responsible and closed for a few weeks too. Our normal weekend attitude is pretty laissez-faire - weekends are for rest and rejuvenation, this will be a shift for all of us.

I know what good teaching looks like, and I don’t want to mess this up. I find myself learning two new curriculums to meet my children’s needs, to make sure they don’t “fall behind” (of what or whom I am not sure). I am digitally hoarding activities that would be “perfect” to “get us through” these three weeks - both my own children and the children I serve.

Then there is the added pressure to support our students from afar. How can I support them when the relationships we have built were in person. How will I tell that Bryan is having a bad day when I can’t see how he sits in his chairs (his “tell sign” for his mood). What about the moral support my crew of girls needs at lunch when they visit me in the Library. What about the kids who come in every day because this is where they feel comfortable? I read that social isolation leads to increased episodes of domestic violence. How can we help when we are not there? We all know that teaching is not 9-3, summers off. And when we can’t be there, it is hard.

I am worried about the expectations I will put on myself - that WE will put on ourselves.

I write this post to hash out some of the uncertainty, vulnerability, and anxiety I am feeling. And I am certain I am not the only one feeling this way. I hope others who are also feeling this way can find solace that they are not alone in these feelings, and I hope that the discussions it might provoke will take us all to a place that will help us give ourselves the break we need.

Here are a few things my (rational) inner voice is saying to me now:
    Bitmoji Image
  1. Find Balance
  2. Leverage the tools available - but not all of them. Pick a few - if kids (your own or the ones that are yours usually from 9-3) like it, stick with it. With all the changes some stability is good.
  3. Online is not the only way - while I love me my EdTech unplugging often works better for my kids. This is a great resource listing ways to meet curriculum offline at home from Karyn Fillhart
  4. Think of this as a sort of co-op - give kids some of that “real world” learning we talk about so often - teach them how to make a meal, do some yard work, heck, bird watching!
  5. We remember learning experiences over the specific lesson.
  6. Get outside - we can all use recess!
  7. When social media hijacks you emotionally, shut it down or go down another rabbit hole like I did today with #DoodleAndChat (thanks Carrie!) or follow accounts on Instagram like the Good News Movement and Upworthy.
  8. Take this time to do the little things you have been wanting to do but just could find the time and make it a learning opportunity.
  9. Set realistic expectations - we should feel more rested, not more stressed.  Social distancing is meant to keep us healthy - let's make sure that is in all aspects.
  10. Don’t compare. As hard as it is.
  11. Share your feelings with those around you.
  12. If your children go to bed saying the day was fun - that’s a win
  13. If your children go to bed saying the day sucked - that’s not a fail
  14. Above all, remember perfection is a four-letter word
Stay well.
Jen

2 comments:

  1. You are totally not alone in your feelings. This is definitely a hard time for us who have worked so hard to build strong relationships with our students. I love your tips and thoughts on what we can do and I agree with them and have thought of them too. Our family has decided to use this as an opportunity to build some new habits we’ve been wanting to, we are going to embrace ideas like genius hour and learn what you want to learn about. As an educator I am going to us this opportunity to think differently about how I connect with my students. Be online for them, make a phone call to check in, give them learning I know they can access and most of all make sure they know I am here and here for them! And as an educator I have decided I am going to balance my social media use but when I am on it, it is to check in, connect with and be there for those who are so important to me!

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