In the midst of a pandemic, this month in particular has me thinking about teacher well-being. I know that we often focus on student well-being – which is imperative – and I wonder if now might be a good time to stop and acknowledge that current events are taking a toll not only on our children but also on the people who are tasked with teaching them at a distance. How might months like this past one with the stories of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper, and George Floyd take a toll on educators, – particularly Black educators – compounded by the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic? I write today to say that I am exhausted beyond measure. If I were to stop and really feel what I know is manifesting within my body, I’m not sure how I might react and so rather than taking that time, I push through because report cards are due in a couple of weeks and classrooms have to be prepped for summer and most importantly, I have students that I need to stay connected to. Not out of obligation but because it’s that connection that keeps me going through this time. The relationship is reciprocal. At least for me. I told my students earlier this week that our Meets are the highlights of my day. I know that on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I’ll have anywhere from 15 to 20 excited voices wanting to share something about their lives and it is a reminder that beyond content, there’s so much that these young people are learning about themselves and the world around them. What are our actions teaching them?
Today, I’m allowing myself to feel as I write. I’m frustrated with talks of reimagining education when there are voices who are never invited to speak on their own reimagination. I’m angered by people’s inability to hear and see what is happening in the world and their lack of understanding that it has a significant impact on our physiology. By asking me to do more without substantive proof that it will have an equally inverse impact, you negate my experience and expertise. I am saddened by personal loss and am overwhelmed by feelings of isolation in grief. I know that I’m not alone in this feeling, and I wonder how many of us are feeling this very thing while smiling away and trying our best because we have “responsibilities”? At what point does our own well-being become the biggest responsibility? With a month left to go of the school year, I worry for colleagues. There’s tremendous pressure to “perform” this next month and I ask you to pause and make sure that you are also taking care of yourself. Your well-being is important. You can’t give what you don’t have. Fill your tanks.
For the most part, during the last 10 weeks that we have been away from the school building, I’ve been holding it together. Learning a new routine, balancing “work” and home, saying no to a lot that doesn’t grow and/or serve me or my students. But this week, wow. There’s been too much so I’m going to pause, keep writing, and work through these feelings that are stirring within me.
Wishing true wellness to everyone,