A few days ago my school was cancelled for the remainder of the year because of COVID-19. It has taken a few days to get through the shock of what is going on in our world.
Educators are working feverishly to develop guidelines under which we will provide the instruction that our students are missing as a result of the school cancellations.
One expectation is that teachers connect with their students and parents on a daily basis through text, phone call, email etc… As an educator this has provided me with an experience that has been positive in some unexpected ways.
Luxury of Listening
Through more frequent contact I have had the luxury of listening, really listening to parents about what they need. I can sit back and offer them my ear without interruptions knowing that I will not have to cut them short to be with the kids. Over email one parent went off on an unexpected tangent which she apologized for later. I quickly replied that she did not need to apologize and let her know I was someone who was willing and ready to listen. It has provided me with an opportunity to understand what parents are going through and to give them a moment to express their fears, challenges and questions.
I am able to help parents and guardians reframe this situation so that they may see it in a more positive light. Each family situation is different with its own set of challenges and I hope that our conversations have helped them see that everyone is doing the best they can.
A Positive Spin
A conversation with a parent who is an essential worker was filled with anxiety around not being able to work and homeschool. I suggested that the most important thing she needed to focus on was taking care of herself. Her health and well-being coming first and the rest would work itself out. It has been rewarding to hear the sigh of relief when they embrace a positive spin versus a negative mindset around their role in this ever-changing world.
Lastly, I have been able to offer some validation to parents. Let them know that what they are doing is not easy and that they are moving forward. We as educators understand that caretakers are not teachers and that they are balancing many other stressors at the same time. By acknowledging what they are doing well and what strengths they are bringing to the situation hopefully encourages them to forge on. As one mom said “it’s not easy, but I am not giving up!”
Listening, reframing and validation are important tools that I use in my second gig as a Holistic Life Coach. So simple, yet so powerful. As our new world unfolds each day it becomes more and more clear that everyone’s roles are changing. With change and uncertainty comes fear and anxiety. It is my hope that I can help my students, their guardians and others to navigate through this unknown.