AS PANDEMIC STRESS LINGERS FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS, FEELING IS HEALING “Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it reported feeling anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, and tired.

teachers—who must often appear chipper and happy, especially when working with children in the lower elementary grades—that can be a challenge. “Kindergarten teachers are always told how much fun their job must be,” says Brackett. “But by the end of the

through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.” Quoting from the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, Dr. Marc Brackett—founder and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence—acknowledged that the last 18 months for educators and children have been challenging. Like survivors of a storm, teachers and students are, in many ways, changed. Brackett has been leading discussions with educators as part of a CEA virtual series called Mindful Mondays. It includes live webinars and on-demand videos on a variety of topics to help teachers cope, thrive, and improve their lives—as well as those of their students—inside and outside the classroom. The series, which kicked off September 13, will run through early November. How are you doing? In polls taken at the height of the pandemic, teachers and students were asked to identify their feelings. Teachers

Children described feeling frustrated. Anyone who made the switch from in-person to remote to hybrid learning over those 16 or more months could relate, with challenges ranging from illness to social isolation to failures in technology. This summer, Brackett noted, teachers were asked how they would like to feel going into the new school year, and their top responses were excited, safe, confident, and happy . As the school year got underway, however, what teachers wanted to feel most—amid debates about everything from vaccines to masks to curriculum—was simply appreciated. “It feels a little cliché,” said Brackett, “but there’s a lot of research around gratitude, and it really works. If you put it out there— appreciation revolution, then it will come back to you. Sometimes you have to be the first. Sometimes you have to start it.” He also noted that to be emotionally healthy, we must give ourselves permission to feel. For for example, if you show appreciation and start an

Missed any of CEA’s Mindful Mondays? There’s still time to register for live sessions and catch up on previous ones at cea.org/mindful-mondays .

day, that emotional labor can be really draining.” The first steps toward regulating our emotions, he says, are identifying them and allowing ourselves to feel those emotions. Learning to do that is key for teachers, not only for their own emotional health but as a way of guiding their students toward healthy emotional lives. “Many of you know I come from a background of bullying and abuse, and my uncle—who was a teacher— gave me permission to feel,” Brackett recalls. Characteristics of people such as his uncle are common In a survey CEA conducted just prior to the start of the school year, teachers reported high stress levels—down only slightly from last year. “Teachers spoke about their stress level being an 8.7 on a 10-point scale last school year,” said CEA President Kate Dias. “That doesn’t really surprise us in a pandemic. We were teaching in various modalities; there was a lot of stress and a lot of change. But teachers have come into the current school year still with elevated stress levels. It begs the question: How are we going to support our teachers during a second year of a lot of unpredictable circumstances?” She told reporters at a press conference, “Teachers’ stress levels dovetail with another finding—namely, that 38 percent of teachers responding to CEA’s survey are considering vacating the

to teachers, he adds. “You are empathic, compassionate, nonjudgmental, supportive, validating, caring, and patient.” Learn more about managing emotions, maximizing your time, reducing and coping with stress, and modeling these skills and behaviors for students. Brackett’s final live webinar of the series—“It’s Just Too Much—Dealing with Chaos, Conflict, and Difficult Conversations”takes place November 1. profession—either retiring early or changing careers. As communities at large, we really need to dig deep and figure out how we can address that problem. How do we meet the needs of teachers, and how do we make sure that schools are not just great places for kids—because we all agree that’s a top priority—but that they’re also great places for educators, where they can continue to grow and feel that they’re invested in?” CEA has been working with state officials and education stakeholders to ensure that the conditions that produce the greatest stress are understood and addressed. These include the need for COVID safety, mental health and social emotional supports for students, fully funded schools, a de-emphasis on standardized testing, and adequate investments in indoor air quality and school infrastructure.


STAFF BOOK PICK Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, by Elena Aguilar

CEA Educational Issues Specialist Michele O’Neill is an avid reader and podcast listener who shares recommendations that question, teach, and entertain. Her latest pick is Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators , by Elena Aguilar. A practical framework to avoid burnout and keep great teachers teaching, Onward tackles the problem of educator stress, helping teachers feel renewed and creating classrooms where every child’s potential is recognized and nurtured. “To say that things are stressful in the world of education would be an understatement,” O’Neill says.

“The requirements, the need to innovate on the fly, and the demands of the current world situation are taking a toll on educators like never before. This book and the accompanying workbook help educators think more mindfully about their self-care and staying in the moment, which fosters resilience. The workbook activities could also be adapted for student use.” CEA has been participating in a book study using this book and workbook. Contact Michele O’Neill ( micheleo@cea.org ) or Kate Field ( katef@cea.org ) to learn more.

Holiday Bear Is Back—And Better Than Ever

The Connecticut Education Foundation (CEF), CEA’s charitable arm, is happy to introduce its updated Holiday Bear Project. Each year, Holiday Bear provides gifts for children whose families are facing financial or other hardships. Children in need are nominated by their teachers, and sponsors provide gifts to brighten the holidays for those students. “We are so thankful to all the teachers and sponsors who supported this important project as we navigated the pandemic last year,” says CEF President and CEA Vice President Joslyn DeLancey. “Thanks to everyone’s generosity, we were able to help hundreds of students in need across the state. This year, we’re excited to announce a streamlined program that will allow us to support even more students in the coming holiday season.” B e P

When asked to rate how stressful they found work on a scale of 0 to 10 (highest), the vast majority of educators (80%) said they are much more stressed than they were before the pandemic.





Highlights of this year’s Holiday Bear Project include an updated logo, and for each child you sponsor, CEF will provide a personalized commemorative gift tag and a standard-size duffel bag to enclose and transport your gifts. To sponsor a child, visit cea.org/holiday-bear- project . The deadline is November 1. You may also purchase fun swag to support the project at customink.com/fundraising/holid . H



Made with FlippingBook - Online Brochure Maker