The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered so many parts of our lives, including the ways in which teachers traditionally educate and interact with their students. In an effort to support those educators and the students they serve, we checked in with Judy Madden, our student support specialist, for some tips, resources, and affirmation during this difficult time.
1. What resources have you shared recently with ACE Teachers, Remick Leaders, and other educators?
Some educators may be feeling increased uncertainty or stress by events that are not in their control. This is a very common feeling, so I share these resources below to strengthen their spiritual and mental health in these uncertain days.
- ”Faith in the time of Coronavirus” by America Magazine - An article that contains some simple and powerful ways to remember God has you and continues to call you to grow and serve even through this.
- The Hallow App has removed their paywall temporarily, offering everything for free. There are some great resources there for Lent and this challenging public health situation.
- Koru Mindfulness has resources utilizing mindfulness to build resiliency in general and in light of coronavirus, specifically. They have dropped their paywall for the next few weeks for students. Please Note: this is not a Catholic app, so use what works for you and adapt as needed.
- Magnificat Online is currently offering their online version for free to help people pray at home.
2. Many educators thrive on the idea of routines and schedules. What advice do you have for the folks who are now faced with unstructured days?
You have to focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t. That means developing a plan and a routine that you can do something about, rather than letting the constant headlines, social media, and uncertainty overwhelm you. Create and maintain some predictability. Some of the ACErs I have talked to have found putting regular routines in place has eased their anxiety and worry.
This may mean writing out a schedule and limiting your social media time to 15 minutes a day. I emphasize this because often what we consume via social media evokes some sort of emotion. While we can control our emotions, people may want to focus on controlling what they consume.
You need to give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Don’t be too hard on yourself for thinking bad thoughts. But try not to reinforce them.
Establish a sleep routine, turn off the news if it gets to be too much, let that person you’re talking to know you’ll need to talk later, or about something else if it’s too doomy and gloomy.
Get outside for a daily walk, a daily online yoga class, and join morning prayer and night prayer with others, virtually, when you can.
3. How important are the ideas of mindfulness and positivity for educators, particularly during this time?
Not only is this something important for each of us to bring to our lives, but this positive posture can be transformative in the lives of the students we serve.
There are some great apps out there that can help us all practice mindfulness in addition to the ones I mentioned above, including Calm and Headspace. If you are unsure about what mindfulness is or where to start, here is a helpful introduction from Headspace.
I'm also pretty excited about an event that is coming up in the beginning of April: The Power of Positive Summit. It will feature many coaches, entrepreneurs, educators, athletes, and others who discuss the power of strengths-based thinking.
For those who are seeking something that connects our Catholic prayer and yoga, you might want to explore Ignatian Yoga.
4. With many cities and states issuing “stay at home” orders, how can educators combat depression and “the blues”?
It’s important to note how getting outside helps change our biochemistry and combats depression. We know that 20 minutes of activity outside (even when it’s cloudy) daily is key to increasing our “feel good” hormones: endorphins.
So take that walk, shoot hoops in your driveway, take your workout outside. Need some inspiration? Check this out!
Finally, remember the importance of connection. We are made for one another. Can you drop off groceries for a neighbor? How can you be of service? How can you practice kindness?
I know we have all 5 kids under our roof, including 2 college kids and an ACE teacher. The only rule we have is be kind. The golden rule matters now more than ever! Now is a great time for handwritten notes sent via snail mail, for FaceTime, for Zoom Bible study, for collective book clubs, and as many more ideas that there are people!
I’d also turn this question back to our readers here, What creative ideas out are out there to connect all of us? Perhaps share pics of communities FaceTiming or people baking on Tuesday nights in solidarity with Fr. Joe, harkening to cookie nights over ACE Summer! I'd love to create a space to share good news and best parts of our days with one another as well.
5. What other pieces of advice would you like to share with fellow educators?
Now is the time for strengths-based thinking. Research tells us that people thrive when strengths are identified and acted upon. This is true for us, for our families, and for our students.
I challenge you to bring a renewed energy to look through the lens of strengths that helps us see the gifts we have to share and the gifts others bring, as well. As Howard Thurman so eloquently says,
“A crown is placed over our heads that for the rest of our lives
we are trying to grow tall enough to wear.”
Please know we are here for you and please be there for each other. Don’t hesitate to reach out if we can do anything for you. Faith, hope and love are given to us all abundantly and we, disciples with hope to bring, are to pass these on with joy.