How Can We Support Our Teacher’s Mental Health?

Nov 10, 2020 by

The first half of 2020 has left parents with a newfound respect for everything that teachers do for our children. Teaching is something that takes a surprising amount of mental and physical resilience. Now that we have a better idea of what teachers go through every day, how can we help support our teacher’s mental health?

Check Your Expectations

You wouldn’t expect your child’s teacher to be available 24/7 under normal circumstances, would you? It’s important as parents to check your expectations. Don’t expect their teacher to be available at all times. It’s easy to think that just because there’s a little green dot or an “online” indicator next to their name that they’re online and always available. Don’t be that parent.

Check your expectations and stick to established office hours. If you need to contact your child’s teacher outside of those office hours, act like you would if the brick and mortar schools were open again — send them an email and wait patiently. They won’t solve your problem any faster if you nag them about it and unlike unpleasant face-to-face interactions, they can mute you on Zoom while you rant and rave, so you won’t get anything done.

Stay Connected

The human race is made up of social creatures, and we’ve spent the majority of 2020 at least six feet apart. We’ve become lonely and touch-starved and it’s having an impact on physical and mental health. Whether you want to admit it or not, that includes your child’s teacher.

Don’t be pushy and obnoxious, but make it a point to try and stay connected. Ask how they’re feeling or how quarantine is treating them or when they think the world will end. Just keep them involved in the conversation. It doesn’t sound like much but just having someone acknowledge that the world has gone crazy and offer an ear if they need one can make an enormous difference. We need to know that we’re not alone in this world gone mad.

Be Aware of Risk Factors

During any other normal year, one out of every five adults lives with anxiety. That’s more than 40 million people. Roughly 7% of them will experience a major depressive episode at least once a year. And that’s during a typical year. The coronavirus pandemic has left us reeling and made it even more difficult to cope with mental health concerns.

We’re not suggesting that you start diagnosing your child’s teacher with depression or anxiety but everyone can benefit knowing and understanding the risk factors and warning signs that depression, anxiety or other are starting to become problematic.

Encourage Self-Care

Self-care has become a popular term, especially in 2020 as we find ourselves buried in new and unexpected stressors, searching for ways to cope with them all. For teachers — and for parents — it’s easy to feel like we have to give everything to everyone else, not taking any time for ourselves.

Encourage your child’s teacher to take care of themselves first. Shaping young minds, even remotely, is exhausting. It’s a lot easier to do if they’re not stretched thin from trying to keep up with everything without taking any time for themselves.

Support Your Children

This year has given us a unique perspective on what our children’s teachers deal with every single day of the school year. Instead of sending them to school in the morning and picking them up and asking about their day in the afternoon, we are involved in the learning process throughout the day.

Don’t just drop your kids in front of their Zoom classroom and expect them to do all their work and listen to their virtual teacher. Make some time during your day to support them and their education. You might not know the curriculum by heart but answering questions and helping out can take a bit of the load off the teachers, making it easier for them to take care of themselves too.

Remember That Teachers Are Human Too

This has been one hell of a year for everyone. It’s too easy for parents and teachers to butt heads, especially when there’s a breakdown in communication somewhere. There’s one thing that you need to keep in mind as we wrap up 2020 and move into what will hopefully be a better new year.

The teachers that are tending to your child’s educational needs are human, just like you. This has been just as hard on them as it is on you — sometimes harder, as they scramble to adapt to distance learning, often without support from their school districts. The easiest rule that you can and should remember when trying to come up with ways to support our teacher’s mental health is don’t be a dick. It’s that simple. Live by the golden rule, treat others like you’d want to be treated, and extend an olive branch — or a margarita — if you feel like it might be accepted and helpful.

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