Blog Post by 2020-21 PA Teacher of the Year and PTAC member Joe Welch
Each week, PA Teacher of the Year Joe Welch will be sharing his experiences and thoughts as we all work through the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. His posts are cross-posted from his personal blog, Inclined to Teach.
As some teachers are about to officially begin their continuity of education plans and some of us about about to enter into our third week of distance learning, or some name thereof, I feel that the emotion that I have battled most for two weeks was the feeling of being overwhelmed.
For me, the most stressful time of the school year had been the first weeks of school. There would be level of wanting everything to be just perfect, long hours each day trying to learn about your new students, setting up locker tags to make students feel comfortable, answering questions, and never really knowing where the next meeting invite would come from.
After experiencing two weeks of virtual learning, the emotions that I personally have experienced have been very similar. You think that you have a handle on what the next day is going to look like and you may even have a task list ready to go. But, here comes the next Zoom invite. Here comes the next e-mail that will “just take a few seconds to respond to”, so you go to it and put down what you had been working on. Here comes that time when you sit down to relax and a student reaches out with an email. This has been the new first two weeks of school, when hours of when teaching time ends and when family time begins.
My own lists have gotten continually longer each day, and no matter what I complete, I replace a task with two more. It is a mix of the movie Groundhog Day and the feeling of running in quicksand. Having two children of my own learning at home has certainly compounded this, but, the first thing to be crossed off my list to manage tasks has been diet and exercise. Although essential to mental health, it is just too easy to say “I’ll deal with that later.”
So how have I started to manage this feeling of being overwhelmed:
Pennsylvania Teachers Advisory Committee