The Back to School Teacher Droop
By Ginny Vose, MA, MeD
Certifed Teacher & Counselor with JCAC
Every year, without fail, while I was teaching, I would start the year with the back to school droop. On Monday morning, I would go to school so energized and ready to go. After teaching the rules and how to successfully navigate my classroom, I would go home and instantly fall asleep within minutes of walking through the door. Getting up Tuesday was harder and by Friday, I had lost my happy attitude because I was so tired. Going back to work after two months off was exhausting, so I can only imagine what this past week has been like after being at home since March. Additionally, this year, you have the concerns of Covid-19 and how to teach virtually. To add insult to injury, not getting to meet your students and see them in the classroom each day is breaking your heart. I know that right now, you are feeling isolated in lonely classrooms without even colleagues to share how your day is going. It must seem as if you are teaching in a big space, all alone. Keeping all of your students, their parents, and administration happy has always been a full-time job. This year, technological demands have made it even worse.
Let me ask you a question, Dear Teacher, how are you going to manage your stress this year so that you do not burn out?
As a teacher myself, I know how hard it can be and how much pressure parents & the administraton put on us… I know how much is expected. I understand how you feel like your hands are tied behind your back while you are asked to catch everything thrown at you. Now I am a counselor and I have learned how to walk with people and help them find something better on the other side. I can walk with you. Below are some basic nuggets of support, things to give yourself permission to do…. All the time!
You are not alone, your pain is not invisible. I see it
Reset Your Brain
When the unrealistic demands from parents and administration come down on you, stop, take a breath, and say OUT LOUD, “I am doing the very best that I can.” Remember that you are only human and only one person. You do not control the internet, the glitches that are going to happen, the children who are not able to log on, and those who misunderstood instructions that were crystal clear. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and breathe out for 5 seconds. Do that 5 times in a row. It resets your brain to allow you to think clearly again.
Get Up and Move
In the same manner that you want your students to move around when they have a break, you need to do the same thing. Every time that you sign off with a class, take at least 5 minutes and get up and move somehow. I know that it can be so tempting to grade student work, answer emails, or prepare for upcoming lessons, but you need to get the blood flowing again. Normally, as you are teaching, you are walking around your room, checking on students, and keeping the class flowing. But now, you are teaching while sitting in front of the computer. Doing a few laps around the perimeter of your classroom, jumping rope, or doing some yoga stretches, will re energize you to keep going when it is time for the kids to log in again.
Don’t Take Work Home
I know that this one is difficult to follow, as well. But as much as possible, leave work in that classroom, if you can. If you can avoid computer screens when you leave, that would be even better. I remember having more than one evening ruined because I read an email from an irate parent or got a dreaded, “See Me” email from an administrator. I also know just how much work teachers do out of school. But see if there are ways that you can leave it in the building. Remember that things are different this year. You are spending all day on the computer. You need to limit your screen time in the same way that we tell our students to limit screen time.
Take time to do a physical activity that you enjoy each day. This could be something like playing tennis, exercising, or walking your dog. Getting up and moving will lift your spirits and help you to sleep when it is time to do so. It is also great to take out the stress you may be feeling from any of the stakeholders that are making teaching even harder right now. Exercise is a great way to releive the stress that is making teaching harder this year.
Take Care of Yourself
I know that there are so many demands on your life right now. You have at least 20 plus children who are all screaming your name at once because they cannot log on to the site that they need to go to. You have parents who are demanding that you make everything work perfectly. You also have Administration holding you accountable to make sure that children learn this year. Not to mention, that you probably have a family of your own that needs you. You feel as if there is no time for you to do something for you. However, if you are not taking care of yourself, then eventually, you will not be able to take care of anyone else.
Make sure that you are eating healthy foods. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep. Relax with a nice shower or bath, listen to music that you enjoy, watch a t v program that is just for you, or read a book. It does not have to take a lot of time, however, in order to be mentally healthy, make time for you.
Talk to Someone
If you are feeling too overwhelmed by the new demands that are being made on you by teaching, it may be time to find someone to talk to about it. Having excessive anxiety and feeling depressed is not a healthy place to be. You will find that when you begin talking with someone about your anxiety and stress, it will improve. A counselor will listen to your concerns and walk beside you as you navigate this rough season. An outside perspective will help you to see things differently. Call us, we are here to help.
With Love, to all my fellow teachers,
Johns Creek and Alpharetta Counseling (#JCAC) is a warm and family orientated counseling practice in Alpharetta, Ga. We offer online counseling services in the states of Georgia and Florida. We offer in-office counseling service at our Alpharetta office which is conveniently located to serve Johns Creek, Milton, Roswell, and Cumming, Ga.
The JCAC Counselors specialize in counseling services throughout the lifespan! We offer play therapy, counseling for children, parental support, adolescent counseling, mental health services, couples counseling, premarital therapy, and individual counseling for adults.
To learn more about our practice, click here!
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