Out of genuine concern for educators’ wellbeing, we have consistently asked two questions of them throughout the pandemic: How are you doing? and Who is supporting you?
These are questions that should have been taken more seriously prior to COVID, but they become essential questions to us as we rethink the roles and responsibilities of our profession. In his book Whole: What Teachers Need to Help Students Thrive, published right before the pandemic, our friend Rex Miller learned the following in his study of teachers:
Most of the teachers were in a constant fight-or-flight mode, the autonomic nervous system’s response to perceived danger. . . . The teachers were “barely hanging on.”
As we continue this work we love, I encourage everyone in our profession to step back, slow down, and focus on the human realities of the students, families, and colleagues in front of us—the policymakers, board members, administrators, classroom teachers, and those in every other role. First, step back and assess where the Lord is at work in your own life and who might need you today. Second, slow down; not everything needs to be accomplished today as we are in this work for the long-term. Third, focus on the people in front of you before you get to the work. We can be so task driven in our profession that we lose sight of the main reason the majority of us chose it—the people!
Therefore, I’d encourage you to get connected with others. As I enter the thirteenth year since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve come to realize more each day how important support is to my well-being, positive spirits, and hopefulness for the future. I am fortunate to have encouragement from family and friends as well as the support group at my hospital. Even though it doesn’t change my circumstances, to know that I am not the only one feeling a specific way (whether it be lost, tired, mired in despair, or even unknowingly happy) refreshes me. Get connected. In his recent blog post Educators as Learners: Opportunities for Professional Learning, Dan Beerens lays out a number of opportunities to connect with colleagues.
Recently I have witnessed the power of teams of educators working with teams from other schools in Improvement Communities. This cross-pollination also happens through Teaching for Transformation as educators work together to build curriculum and instruction that reveals the Deep Hopes for our lives, schools, students, communities, and world in relationship with our God.
Never forget Christ’s invitation in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
You are loved,
Senior CACE Fellow