School closures and other measures taken over the last few weeks are greatly impacting students, their parents and caregivers, and educators. It can feel overwhelming, but we are resilient. Social and emotional learning (SEL) can help us navigate and overcome the stress, anxiety, and disruption to our normal routines.
As an educator, you are in a unique position to provide stability and support to your students and their families in this uncertain time. But in order to do that, you must first take care of your own social-emotional well-being.
Social-Emotional Wellness Tips for Educators
Here are a few ways you to take care of your social-emotional well-being so that you’re better able to support others.
- Lean on family, friends, and coworkers. Talking about your experiences, fears and frustrations can relieve stress. Just be careful to not let it spiral and cause more anxiety. Focus conversations on sharing ideas to support each other and your students while you’re not able to be face-to-face.
- Focus on positive thoughts. It may sound simple, but much research shows that an optimistic thinking can increase coping skills during times of hardship or stress and improve physical health. Read this article for tips on how to practice a positive mindset.
- Limit your media exposure. Constantly tuning into the news can increase anxiety and stress levels. It’s important to stay informed but be sure to limit how long and how often you watch or listen to the news. Make sure to only listen to experts so you are getting reliable and accurate information.
- Limit time spent on social media. While the memes about the run on toilet paper may be funny, constant exposure to other people’s reactions (and possible overreactions) can cause increased stress and anxiety, and it can distort reality.
- Find ways to relax and de-stress. Whether it’s meditating, practicing mindfulness, going for a walk or hike (remember to practice social distancing), or getting lost in a good novel, set some time aside to relax and recharge.
Tips to Support Students and Families
Even though you may have limited interactions with students over the coming weeks, you can still be there to support them and their social-emotional health.
- Help students understand what is happening. A simple and age-appropriate conversation about what is going on and why their routine is disrupted can help alleviate students’ anxiety and stress. Send home talking points to help parents know how to talk their students about what is happening in a constructive way. If you have a school or class web page, be sure to keep it current with the latest information about your district’s closure and resources available to continue learning.
- Be calm and reassuring. Students pick up on what they see and hear from adults. Adults can reduce students’ anxiety by assuring them that their teachers and parents are working hard to keep them healthy and safe.
- Be a listening ear. Some students don’t have an adult at home who they feel they can turn to in times of need. Encourage students to talk to you about their feelings and help them work through any concerns they may have. Keep the communication going through email, online chat, text message, virtual meeting spaces, or an old-fashioned phone call.
It is only natural to feel anxious right now, but the social-emotional skills you’ve been fostering in your students and yourself will help to carry you through this unprecedented time. We at Aperture Education wish to thank all the educators who are working so hard to continue to support students and families during school closures. Our thoughts are with you.