I want to start by saying 'thank you' to all school staff. I've witnessed first hand how schools have pulled together and redesigned and re-formatted face-to-face curriculum into online, remote learning. I've seen school staff share creative zoom teaching ideas, problem-solve when technology refuses to cooperate, check-in on children and families with phone calls, create remote wellbeing activities and days for children and support their colleagues' wellbeing.
Even superheroes have fears
With all the amazing work teachers and other school staff have been doing, it could be easy to forget they may also be experiencing the same fears, anxieties, sadness and losses that Covid-19 has challenged all of us with.
There is lots of talk about how to support children with their return to school - as there needs to be - but not so much about how teachers and support staff might be feeling. Some are going to be very eager to return. Others, whilst missing their students and colleagues might be concerned about:
being around so many people again
the discomfort of wearing masks all day
pressure to get children 'back on track' as fast as possible
sending their own children back to school
Worry and fear can be exhausting. Ironically, this kind of exhaustion can make it more difficult to sleep and the cycle continues. You will deal with challenges best when your headspace is nurtured. Try and get back to a regular sleep routine in the week before you return to school.
Some ideas worth a try...
Continue doing something enjoyable. Maybe you've learnt a new craft, hobby or started walking more. Timetable this into your day/week.
Practice wearing your mask for longer periods at home in the week prior to returning to school. Try a few different styles to find one that is the most comfortable for you. As someone who wears glasses, I've discovered I need the ones that have the little metal nose piece so the mask just tucks under my glasses a little and reduces the fogging up.
Write a list of what you have learnt and achieved as a teacher, support teacher, administrator during this time. This is a great reminder in times when you might feel not so great about yourself.
Set work/home boundaries. Understandably, these have been extremely blurred during remote learning. Having been a teacher, I know a teacher's day does not finish when they walk out the school gate. There are lessons to prepare for the next day and marking to complete as well as other administrative tasks. Try to set yourself a time to be done, change clothes, put on whatever other hat you have (mum, dad, wife, husband, grandparent, friend, etc) then do something for you - even if all you have time for is listening to your favourite song while you brush your teeth before falling in to bed.
Link up with a colleague or friend who you can debrief and vent with but who will also help brain-storm with you solutions and strategies and help you focus on doing the best with what you can control. (You might also like to review my blog Things I can control when in lockdown).
Put a photo in your classroom or workspace that puts a smile on your face and reminds you to take a breath, you've got this!
"Thank you to all school staff"
If you would like support to explore this further, I invite you to contact me at Natural Growth Childhood Counselling.