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Back to School Survival Guide for Teachers

Updated: Dec 31, 2021

This summer at Grit Therapy, we had more teachers reach out to us to begin therapy than we ever have before. We appreciate how incredibly difficult your job is right now. Your work is demanding in it's own right, and even more so as we navigate the effects of the Coronavirus. There are a few things we've noticed that have helped our Summit County teachers, and we wanted to pass a little of what we've learned on to you.

Do not blame yourself for things you cannot control

The teachers we see at Grit Therapy are smart, capable, talented, and take on loads of personal responsibility. At times, they have trouble acknowledging that a whole host of things will be difficult (or impossible) not because of a failure on their part, but because there is a pandemic. Contrary to popular belief, so much of what happens in our daily life is out of our control, even more so since Covid hit. As a teacher, it is important that you free yourself from blame around the zillion things that you are not responsible for, and focus in on where you can actually make a difference.

Explore your relationship to the unknown

Teaching demands organization, schedules, timelines, and (when possible) predictability. For many, the start of this school was anything but these things. Information and protocols have been rolling out last minute and changing frequently. New safety rules and regulations have left the beginning of this school year with many fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants moments.

If you prefer a controlled environment, and are struggling with the chaos of starting school during a pandemic, reach out to a friend or mental health professional and talk through your relartionship with control and chaos. You may need to find ways to show up in a more flexible manner, increasing your tolerance for the unknown and disorganization.

Acknowledge that you are not immune to the effects of the pandemic

As a teacher, you are expected to be the one person in the room who has it together. Teaching important information while also managing behavior, thinking about social/emotional learning, and preparing for standardized tests. The teachers (and therapists!) that we know sometimes feel that they are not allowed to have the same emotional and mental needs as everyone else. The pandemic has hit us all. Many of us have experienced grief, loss, and trauma to varying degrees. Teachers, perhaps especially teachers, deserve to be supported around their experience with Covid.

Understand that parents' Covid-related stress, grief, and anger may be directed at you

Parents can be both a lovely and difficult part of a teacher's job. You may need to remember that your students' parents are experiencing an unprecedented time of stress. Maybe their lives haven't changed much, but maybe they have lost work or wages, have sick family members, have businesses going under, have aggravated mental health issues, and/or have really struggled having their children home. You may find parents are more grateful during this time, or more aggravated and less patient.

Understand that students' Covid-related stress, grief, and anger may be directed at you

Just as their parents have experienced extreme stress during this time, our students have also been living in an unstable world after experiencing significant loss and confusion. Their home lives may be more chaotic or difficult than they were before the pandemic. If you notice increased behavior issues this year, consider what your students may be going through.

Understand that your co-workers' and superiors' Covid-related stress, grief, and anger may be directed at you

The people you work with are also living through a pandemic. You may find less support from your superiors as they manage the stress of reopening or remote learning. You may find your coworkers are less patient, or your support staff is not showing up for you. And you too may not be showing up in the way that you would during a "normal" school year.

Remember that this school year is not the same as last Spring

Teaching via Zoom in the Spring was it's own beast. Teachers, students, and families were not prepared for the transition to remote learning, and most of the curriculum was never intended to be taught online. All of us were dealing with the shock and fear of a raging pandemic that we knew hardly anything about.

While this Fall is no walk in the park, it is still significantly different from last Spring. As individuals, we are generally more adapted to living with a pandemic. We understand more about it's spread and risk, and we have some hope for a vaccine. Teachers have had more time to wrap their head around remote learning and in person teaching with strict safety precautions. You may have to remind yourself that you can have a much better experience this Fall than you did in the Spring, even during the pandemic

Teachers are an incredibly vital part of our children's lives, and our society. At Grit Therapy, we just want you to know how much we appreciate your efforts. We also want you to know that if you feel stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed during this time, we see you. We know that you are under immense stress. Thank you in advance for surviving this difficult year, and showing up for our children when you can. Please get the love, support, and help that you deserve and need. We love our teachers!!

If you are a teacher in the Summit County area and you think you might benefit from the help of a mental health professional, call us today to schedule a free phone consultation. Our experienced, licensed therapists can help you decide if working with us right for you.

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