[0:02] Virtual education is a challenge, and I know it’s a challenge you’re up to. I have a few thoughts to share with you about virtual education and about you and your feelings.
[0:35] Virtual education and social-emotional learning can occur at the same time. Oftentimes people think just because we’re doing distance learning and it’s not face-to-face that there’s no need to think about social emotional experiences. But there are plenty, and I think it is important to bring students back to school and that the best socialization probably occurs when they’re face-to-face. However, we can make it so that there’s much learning taking place outside of school and through these online experiences. It’s important to use all modes of learning to educate our students, and virtual education does not need to be sterile and cold. There are many ways to make exciting and interactive. Instead of complaining about what students air not experiencing, we need to celebrate new ways of making virtual learning more effective. It’s time to put yourself in front of the camera, be fun, be alive, and be exciting to your students.
1. Protect and Advocate for Yourself
[1:38] You’re back in school, so protect yourself. It’s important that you as teachers speak out about your safety if proper procedures aren’t in place. Think of how much health care workers in the hospitals rightfully complain, pleaded and begged for safety equipment. They’re true heroes and so are you, but you must speak up and make sure you are protected. Going back to school is a complicated issue that demands the advice of healthcare workers, teachers, parents, administrators, and health agencies. You must take care of yourself. No one else will speak up for all the protection in space you need. It is your life at risk. Also at risk are your family. Your parents and your colleagues.
2. Become Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
[2:27] The Navy Seals use this to help them adapt to some of the most rigorous and difficult situations we could ever imagine. Plan ahead, but take life one day at a time. You don’t know what the situation will be tomorrow or even in a week or a month away. As teachers, we control our classroom environment, and right now the pandemic is in charge. I often talk about creating a classroom environment you can live comfortably in. Do the same with your life. Take time for you. Exercise more now that you’re sedentary at home teaching. Learn healthy eating habits. Worry less and be comfortable with the unknown. It’s okay not to be okay. We often judge ourselves when we get down in are hard on ourselves if we experience sadness or feel fearful during the pandemic. This often produces personal guilt and shame. It creates a situation where we feel bad about feeling bad. This negative cycle prevents us from healing and solving the problems facing us. Research has shown that when we accept our negative emotions rather than dismissing them, our emotional health is positively affected. Those who avoid looking at these emotions often feel worse. Balance is everything. Enjoy your positive emotions and learn to acknowledge and live with less positive situations. It’s okay not to feel OK.
3. Listen to Your Students
[4:05] Don’t forget your students. They too, need to hear good, honest assessments about the situation rather than “Oh, it’s fine. Everything will be fine. No worries.” Instead, listen to their feelings and maybe say, “Yes. This is a difficult time and I’m sure it makes you sad at times. It does the same for me.” Give students time to deal with their feelings rather than trying to fix them. Check-in with him later and see how they’re feeling.
[4:36] Schools underway to all you heroes out there, the pandemic has shown the world that teachers are an important and integral part of society. I thank you all for being essential providers. I appreciate you all thank you for all you do.