As educators, we take enormous care to model for our students processes, paradigms and more importantly, actions and responses. What we do or not do, the words we chose or don’t say, our body language, eye contact or lack of all impact our students and often leave permanent footprints.
It is our hope that our students see us as mirrors of their community but this is often not possible for obvious reasons. Yet, as a community we engage in constant dialogue to advance our students’ academic progress and social-emotional well-being.
Whether through professional development, grade teams, or other forms of collaboration, we constantly seek to ensure that our students are being met at their level: that flexibility is being offered so that our students can succeed in mastering content and skills while maintaining a healthy emotional balance.
Ironically, we do not do the same for educators. Educators are expected to wear many hats – often multiple new hats all at once. The result is chaos for all.
Take for instance students struggling with managing workloads consequently resulting in heightened levels of anxiety for our students. As educators, how do we facilitate our student’s needs? We ask them to share with us what their workload looks like – both academic and extracurricular. Then we gently support our students in prioritizing their workloads – which in most cases means having to choose one extracurricular activity that needs to be put on a temporary hold until the student can establish a healthy balance in successfully completing their core requirements.
Educators on the other hand are not given the same sort of flexibility or support we afford our students.
Instead, educators are piled on with “extracurriculars” or other community tasks that are given equal priority as core requirements. Educators are expected to plan, instruct, lead, guide, advise and everything has equal priority. Administrators will argue that students very much need that extracurricular activity or “task” as that is our students only positive release valve.
Consequently, the educator sees everything as a priority, their level of anxiety is volcanic, instruction suffers and students internalize that educator’s frustration and/or stress, resulting in a vicious cycle of meeting priorities inefficiently, without joy, saddened students, and weak academic performances.
Oh how easy it is for administrators to say extracurriculars will continue to meet but on a reduced schedule for the next two weeks. Yet the default response is “The term is almost over. Hang in there”.
This is the perfect storm within school communities and it is far more rampant now during the pandemic than ever before.
The hypocrisy is insane. What we do for our students we do not do for our educators.
And what do we model for our students: Do as I say not as I do.
Yes, the messaging does start at a young age.