COVID-19 – Educators: We’re All in This Together

Educators, we exist in a time of extreme firsts.

First time on lockdown, first time homeschooling, first time learning virtually, first time teaching virtually. We struggle to keep a semblance of normality in a time that is distinctly not normal. COVID-19 turned our world upside down, shook it, and then put it in a headlock.

Many of us yearn for productivity during periods of uncertainty. We want to be doing! DOING our work! DOING our job as caregivers! But how can we produce in the same way as we did before? How can we support our student’s learning and deliver on job responsibilities?

If this is on your mind, here are just a few thoughts to consider.

Now is not the time for speed.
We live in a fast-paced society where we too often mistake speed for talent or prowess. Now more than ever, slowing down may prove key to productivity and self-care. Rushing through work tasks and assignments does not facilitate lasting change. It will, however, accelerate your exhaustion. These actions often add to the chaos rather than promote calm.

I urge you to slow down.

What is most important right now? What is most important to you? To your family? To your job? To your students? Write down your answers and prioritize your time. In fact, make prioritizing your prioty.

There is no need to rush. Moving steadily will produce more efficient and effective action than rushing to get every item on your to-do list completed. Reduce your pace and you may gain clarity and accomplishment both personally and professionally.

Identify a daily purpose.
Similarly, consider what success looks like for you. What is success? Maybe success is hosting daily online office hours. Maybe success is responding to the emails piling up in your inbox.

Identify YOUR version of success and break it down into discrete, purposeful steps or tasks. Work through those tasks across the day or week, and feel proud of how much you have accomplished.

Our connections strengthen us.
No one, no matter how much education or experience, has prepared for our current crisis. All of us feel challenged and blindsided.

We need each other.
If this is your first time working or teaching from home, schedule a meeting or video chat with a colleague or supervisor. Create a group for peer coaching and mentoring. Find your people and work with them. Let them share their ideas, lend their gifts, and provide an alternate point of view. Never before has group work been more essential.

We are all novices. We are all leaders. We are all in this together.

Dr. Rachel Schwartz, BCBA-D is an Educational Consultant at the Watson Institute. She received her Master’s Degree in Teaching and Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Georgia and her Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Schwartz has worked internationally creating and supervising programs for individuals with developmental disabilities and continues her work to enhance behavior analytics programming.