Hedreich Nichols

I’m Not Your Super(wo)man

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Small Bites Friday Five 07-17-20:

20-30m – Delve into Jorge Valenzuela’s SEL strategy article from Teacher2Teacher.

15-20m – Visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network website and choose resources you can use to support students in the coming months.

10-15m – Have conversations with colleagues and admin to figure out about how you can best support each other.

5-10m – Read Why Are Blacks Dying at Higher Rates From Covid to get an idea of how lack of equity means more than just gaps in education and income.

0-5m – Wear a mask, wash your hands and refrain from gathering in crowds, especially if you are in an area where COVID cases are spiking.

Most teachers I know are not in education for the paycheck. They are not in it for the summers folks think they have off and they certainly don’t do it for the prestige. The teachers that I know are dedicated, capable and will leave it all on the field for their kids.

Sadly, these same dedicated professionals are being cast as not only unwilling to work, but they are also seen as unworthy of consideration as plans are being made to reopen schools.

In Texas and many other states, not only teachers, but also districts have been emasculated and left out of the decision making process.

The response from teachers across the country has been colossal. Teachers used to “doing it for the kids” recognize that this is not about the kids and no amount of guilt is making us believe that it is. We are not willing to watch even one of our students or colleagues die, and we are certainly not willing to sacrifice the health of our families to do it, not if we have any say in the matter.

What does this mean for us? It means that each of us has to decide if we risk lives or livelihood. Or it means we risk the health and welfare of our communities because losing our income or our educational funding is simply not an option. Maybe it means asking for a leave, taking a paycut and dealing with the personal economic consequences. Maybe, for some, it means not understanding what the fuss is all about and being at odds with teachers who are expressing fear for their safety and the safety of others around them. Whatever your stance right now, it is bound together with anxiety, stress and possibly fear.

Our students will also return full of anxiety and fear. Between COVID exposed inequities, loss, economic distress and the protests, we are experiencing trauma as a nation and that trauma will show up in our f2f or virtual classes in a few short weeks. Unlike loss, our trauma is ongoing and our most vulnerable students will need us even more. Students will need us to be aware of signals for help and even codes like posts about pasta on social media. SEL will have to be a priority and if your school isn’t yet equipped, Casel has excellent SEL resources for helping students during the COVID crisis.

What are you doing to prepare personally? Are you bingeing on news and COVID statistics or are you being mindful? Are you staying awake late mulling over possible scenarios or are you practicing wellness in in a way that brings you peace? Summer will be over soon and we will have to be prepared to meet our students where they are.

You can’t pour from an empty cup so I implore you, as you go through the resources to help your students learn while they manage grief, anxiety and traumatic experiences, make sure that you are practicing self-care. As much as we say teaching is our superpower, we can’t take it all on. The best way for you to take care of your students is for you to take care of yourself.