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Since the spring of 2020, education has changed. Though we have learned a lot along the way, that doesn’t necessarily make our feelings any easier to deal with. Alongside learning new platforms, teaching methods, and balancing our own mental health, teachers and students are grieving the loss of events, celebrations, traditions, field trips, and activities.
Your surge capacity is running on empty. “Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems, mental and physical, that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters.” And as much as we can work to lift ourselves from teacher grief, to reinvigorate our surge capacity, we must also realize it’s okay to identify and observe those feelings as they happen.
It’s important to recognize that many of our students are dealing with grief and lowered surge capacity. Whatever engaging elements of online learning that initially excited students have surely worn off. We’ve made immense strides to teach during a pandemic, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. Students and teachers alike are fatigued and burnt out, longing for human connection and a sense of normalcy.
It takes intentional effort to identify the things that are working well when your baseline level of living is different from years past.
Let us first understand grief. Grief is an intense emotional and physiological reaction to the loss of someone or something. Though you might initially think of grief as the loss of a loved one, those feelings of grief are the same for losing events and experiences. We can remember that loss and grief are common life experiences. They are opportunities to learn and grow, and we can see them as openings to develop social-emotional learning.
Social-emotional learning is the perfect pathway for making connections with students about their mental health, dealing with problems, and best practices for support.
For more support on Social-Emotional Learning:
50 Activities that Support Social-Emotional Learning
5 SEL Lessons That Actually Work with Secondary Students
How to Support Social-Emotional Learning Through Choice
3 Ways to Address Social-Emotional Needs When Teaching Online
5 Ideas to Help You Bring SEL into Your Teaching
As with anything, time will only help us grow stronger. Remember, your role as an art educator is to not only support your students’ creativity but to help them be the best person they can be. Facilitating conversations, encouraging expression, and allowing for a range of feelings are the first steps toward persevering through grief.
What successes have you celebrated this year?
What social-emotional skills have you connected to art?
What has been the most difficult part of dealing with teacher grief?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors from across the nation and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University or any of its academic offerings.