For the past year, we have worried about the effects of remote schooling on our children. Would they fall behind academically? Would the lack of social interaction create emotional problems? Would the increased time online place them in greater danger from online predators? These concerns are legitimate, and we should prioritize our children. However, while doing this, we should remember those who have been similarly impacted by remote schooling: educators.
In many cities, remote schooling has been treated like a game of musical chairs—one week, kids attended school; the next week, they were forced to learn online. Imagine the difficulties of preparing lesson plans, covering all subject matter required by a school district, and designing it all in a manner that keeps children focused.
Very difficult—and very stressful.
With that in mind, here are some recommendations for school districts to help our educators return for the spring semester confident, fulfilled, and ready to tackle the challenges ahead:
- Provide rewarding opportunities for educators to connect with each other.
Hire some struggling musicians to do a private concert for your teachers, or ask a local restaurant if they would be willing to donate a dinner party for a group of your teachers as a reward for their services. (The restaurant may be interested in the positive PR!)
- Host virtual “office hours” by the administrators or school board that would allow educators direct communication with leaders weekly.
Encourage your teachers to come—even if it’s just to talk, share ideas, or vent their struggles.
- Encourage educators to practice self-care and connect them to available resources.
Identify local meditation experts, yoga teachers, or mindfulness groups you can contract for your teachers’ use.
- Demonstrate flexibility in district policies, when appropriate.
For example, allow more dress down days for teachers and students if the district’s schools have uniforms—relaxing policies can relieve stress and even be unifying. Also, encourage the use of set working hours and scheduled breaks to prevent burnout.
- Set realistic expectations for educators and support their efforts to achieve them.
Review the expectations set by the district, and if they are excessive, partner with educators to find solutions, such as practices that encourage efficiency, time management, and cooperation.
Educators play an enormously important role in our children’s lives, and they must be placed in the best position to succeed. Our future is in their hands.
Want to learn more? Register for Gaggle’s upcoming Student Wellness Series: Educator Well-Being webinar on January 26 at 3:00 PM ET. For this informative event, I’ll be joined by Dr. Eric Eshbach from the Pennsylvania Principals Association and Steve Lehman from Northern York County School District to discuss this important topic and ways educators can take care of themselves.