Look After Yourself
In education we often have to adapt our thoughts, actions, and emotions in order to effectively navigate new, changing, or uncertain situations.
COVID-19 can be definitely categorised as a new, changing, and uncertain situation for all. It is safe to say that adaptability is needed even more now than ever.
Given the evolving situation with COVID-19, adaptability is likely to be highly important for teachers to effectively navigate these uncertain times over the coming weeks and months.
For teachers this may involve, for example:
- adjusting thinking and attitudes about how students learn online and how technology can be harnessed in teaching like never before;
- adjusting behaviours by seeking out people to support any technical needs for remote teaching; and,
- adjusting emotions by reining in possible anxiety or frustration as new technologies are navigated and as different students engage with remote learning in different ways.
Based on work around professional growth, here are some actions that might help teachers to boost their adaptability by:
- thinking of a recent situation that required adaptability (e.g., adjusting an assessment for online marking);
- reflecting on how you adjusted your thinking, behaviour, or emotions to deal with the situation and whether you could do this differently in future (e.g., What different resources could I use next time? Where else could I go for support with this?); and,
- experimenting with these ideas when a similar situation arises. (Collie & Martin, 2016)
Mindfulness is one of the most effective ways to increase productivity, reduce stress, increase self-awareness, enhance emotional intelligence and reduce unhelpful emotional, cognitive, and behavioural processes – our overall wellbeing.
Mindfulness is essentially training our minds to pay attention in a particular way. It is the non-judgemental observation of the ongoing stream of information bombarding our brains.
The more we practice any of the following exercises, which again can be done in a minute or two, the more likely we are to develop our ability to stay in the present moment, focus and cancel out some of that inner chatter that can create perceived threats for us.
- Clock watching exercise: Sit in front of a clock or watch that you can use to time the passing of one minute. Your task is to focus your entire attention on your breathing, and nothing else, for the full minute. Have a go – do it now.
- Mindful eating: This involves sitting down at a table and eating a meal without engaging in any other activities – no newspaper, book, TV, radio, music or talking. Now eat your meal paying full attention to which piece of food you select to eat, how it looks, how it smells, how you cut the food, the muscles you use to raise it to your mouth, the texture and taste of the food as you chew it slowly. You may be amazed at how different food tastes when eaten in this way and how filling a meal can be. This technique is also very good for digestion.
- Mindful walking:While walking, you concentrate on the feel of the ground under your feet and your breathing. Just observe what is around you as you walk, staying in the present. Let your other thoughts go, just look at the sky, the view, the other walkers; feel the wind, the temperature on your skin; enjoy the moment.
This article on the Great Lakes Ledger has some really useful information about breathing techniques