The COVID-19 pandemic is confronting all of us with challenges. In particular, the education system faces extraordinary difficulties. School closures and testing delays abound. And a ripple effect is impacting educators, students, and families in ways we couldn’t have anticipated.
Counselors and educators are known to be helpers. You are a constantly available source of support for their students during the traditional school year. In times like these, when educators face increasing demands to help students (virtually or over distance learning), tensions can run high. It raises the question: Who is helping the helpers?
We decided to ask three veteran Texas school counselors how they are coping during this unfamiliar time. We hope these tips will help you, too!
Jennifer Sullivan, Counselor, Dimmitt ISD:
- I am consciously looking for joy and laughter in the day.
- I limit social media consumption – it can be a distraction and a stressor.
- I block off time to connect with my support network via Facetime, email, and text.
Ashlie McKenzie, Counselor, New Caney ISD:
- I start every day with 20–30 minutes of yoga. Free online videos like Yoga With Adriene on YouTube are a great way to start my day with some breathing, exercise, and a positive mantra.
- I find open spaces so I can get out of the house and take a walk or run.
- I lean on my family for support by taking time out at meals to focus on the positives of the day. Each member of my family shares our “roses and thorns” at dinner. The rule is you have to describe three roses, or good things that happened that day. You can also share thorns (hardships or frustrations), but you cannot have more thorns than you have roses.
Mia Bradford, Senior Counselor, Houston ISD:
- I’m prioritizing getting the much-needed rest I wish I had time for during the school year. This helps your immune system tremendously.
- I’m spending time with loved ones, cautiously. I am avoiding in-person contact with family members who are elderly or compromised (opting for virtual check-ins instead), and being very careful and intentional when interacting with small groups of family.
- I focus on the positive. Many of us wish we had time to slow down. Now, though the circumstances are unfortunate, we have that opportunity. Use this time to count your blessings and catch up on the things you wish you had time for.
Counselors and educators, Texas OnCourse is here to support you. If you haven’t already, be sure to join the Texas College and Career Source Planning Facebook group, so you can continue to learn from, support, and share with your peers in education.