Educators, are you insecure about how this next school semester will proceed? Don’t worry; you’re not alone.
Zoom, Google Classrooms, your own kids staying home and under foot, it’s all just too much!
Teachers are overwhelmed right now. It’s important to curb teacher burnout. Educator Justin Parmenter talks about, “The burden of trying to adapt everything I’d be doing in a physical classroom to an online format, manage my own kids’ learning throughout the day, handle an insane amount of communication and do it all with the added stress of living under a deadly pandemic.” (Strauss, 2020) Does this leave you asking yourself, can I keep up? Has the pandemic altered teaching in a variety of ways you feel unprepared to manage?
Kids and teachers at their laptops all day?
One of the most difficult transitions teacher face is accepting the limits of online interaction with their kids. How do you read body language effectively through a computer screen? Technology and change is being thrust upon everyone. Google classrooms may crash. Tangible resources for labs are no longer available. Distractions from home contribute to students and teacher frustrations. On a bright side, young people have long been outpacing the aging sector with their adaptation to new technology. At some grade levels flexibility in scheduling has created a positive environment. Technology tools like free wi-fi and computers or tablets represent additional benefits.
Due to State mandates, the school district plans keep changing
Most full time teachers and administration still have a job, but what about the para professionals, teacher aides, and PE teachers? They may be at risk of losing their jobs. Yes, they can file for unemployment, but they would receive less monthly income and their other benefits could be lost. These are factors that currently remain unknown.
Solutions to your problems
- Create a daily process. Block your time on your calendar. If you are bombarded with emails from co-workers and the district set aside just one or two specific times of the day to read and respond. It can be hard if you are constantly switch gears between class and email.
- Refresh your approach. High school teacher Teresa M. Diehl makes an important point, “I certainly have had to change my plans and assessments, and I’d say that’s generally a good thing since stagnant teaching and meaningless assignments can occur when we recycle the plans we’ve had success with in the past.” (Heubeck, 2020) You have the opportunity to be the teacher your kids remember most fondly.
- Keep an open mind. The school district is trying to make this work, they are learning on the fly just like you. It may feel like they are fumbling, but this is new to the district too. You have a job, maybe not what you originally signed up for, but you are still employed.
- Keep your body healthy. You are accustom to being in front of the class and on your feet all day, now you sit in front of a computer screen. Sitting is not required! Set a timer for 60 seconds. Tell your kids to stand with you. Do a few shoulder rolls, touch your toes, reach to the sky. When the timer goes off, everyone returns to their seat. This quick break can recharge your body and your mind.
- Make your online presentation appealing. Collaborate with other teachers about your presentation space. You can help each other by critiquing your learning backdrops. Your background used to be the board. Now you find yourself working from behind a makeshift desk in the spare bedroom or worse yet, the laundry room. Get someone to politely assess the following, does your background appears cluttered, does it looks like you are sitting in a poorly lit space making it hard to see your face clearly, maybe your camera angle needs to be improved. At the end of the day,
- Laugh. Yes, there will be technology malfunctions. Kids at home may have their attention diverted if the family dog walks into the room while they are in class online. You may be distracted when you see and hearing your own children in another room while you lecture to a computer. Take a breath and then laugh about. Let the kids see your fun side. This may help to keep everyone energized as class is winding down another long study session.
- Consider your financial and retirement plans carefully. It’s a wise idea to go online to your State teachers retirement website to review your benefits regularly. Maybe you feel the pandemic has forever changed education in ways you just don’t want to accept. Does this lead you to think about a career change? Are you nearing retirement and have the Covid-19 disruptions made you consider an early retirement? Have you seen a shift in your finances due to Coronavirus? Think about this, you may find your out of pocket teaching expenses have gone down. You aren’t buying the same classroom supplies. You are not commuting to work 5 days a week. With your teaching costs down, it may be wise to start or increasing 403(b) contributions so you work toward building a more stable financial future.
Few people like change, but remember to count your blessings. Coronavirus has brought many the feeling of being overwhelmed and overloaded. You and your students are being bombarded by new technological challenges. However, you now have the autonomy to create a structure that works for you. Organize yourself. This is something you ask your students to do on a regular basis, and it can work for you too. Stay healthy. “Because we’re living in a time of unprecedented stress, make sure to build in time to take care of yourself.” (Fleming, 2020) Take the time to Zoom with a couple of your teacher pals to get some helpful hints about your presenting backdrop while enjoying some camaraderie. Years from now someone may ask one of your students you taught back in 2020, which one of your teachers had the biggest impact on you during your education? A quick response may follow that it was you. Your kiddos may think of you as the teacher who’s cat always meowed from outside the window while you were teaching class from your computer. We tend to remember anomaly situations more vividly. Laugh about this today and your kids may laugh fondly about it in the future. 2020 has brought a new way of teaching. Don’t let your finances add to your stress. Now is the time to get your financial life in order. Get some peace of mind by putting a solid financial plan in place.
About the Author
My name is Marianne Martini Nolte, CFP® As a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner, I provide fiduciary financial advice and services for individuals, families, and small business owners. In particular, I have a passion for working with women in transition, new investors just starting on their path to financial independence, and families seeking special needs planning. This article is intended as a high level view. For more in depth information, please contact me today to set a complimentary discovery meeting. Let me help you establish your personalized goal saving and investment strategy with a comprehensive plan analysis. I want to help turn your dreams into goals with a plan.
Marianne Martini Nolte, CFP®
Imagine Financial Services
Phone, (760) 846-2569.
Fleming, N. (2020, May 08). Curbing Teacher Burnout During the Pandemic. Retrieved July 15, 2020, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/curbing-teacher-burnout-during-pandemic
Heubeck, E. (2020, June 03). How Did COVID-19 Change Your Teaching, for Better or Worse? See Teachers’ Responses. Retrieved July 15, 2020, from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/06/03/how-did-covid-19-change-your-teaching-for.html
Strauss, V. (2020, April 08). Perspective | A veteran teacher has ‘a mini covid-19 educator meltdown’ – and realizes that less is more with online learning. Retrieved July 15, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/04/08/veteran-teacher-has-mini-covid-19-educator-meltdown-realizes-that-less-is-more-with-online-learning/
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