It’s essential for educators to ‘indulge’ in self-care
Dr. Dena Simmons, the founder of LiberatED, is a leading voice on teacher education. She has written and spoken across the country about social justice pedagogy, diversity and emotional intelligence. On July 9, in a featured session with AFT Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus at the AFT’s TEACH conference, she shared strategies to cope with isolation, uncertainty, burnout and the collective traumas of the pandemic and the country’s ongoing racial reckoning.
Education in a pandemic
“It is about love, loving your students and showing them that you care,” says Chicago teacher Matt Yan. Educators’ love for their students shines in this video about education since March 2020. “Be resilient” was Newark, N.J., third-grade teacher Locksley Saunders Jr.’s mantra. Carle Place, N.Y., teacher Julie Tusa brought props to the classroom “because if you don’t laugh through all this, you will cry.” Rio Rancho, N.M., bus driver Edward Vigil painstakingly sanitized his bus after each load of kids: “What makes it worth it to me [is] the kids.” The task now, per Atlantic Beach, Fla., teacher John Lewis Meeks, is to “transform education more.” Echoing their sentiments in another TEACH video, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona acknowledged that it’s been “a year like no other” and promised, “We can … make the future brighter for all our students.”
Educators thriving: The nuts and bolts of avoiding burnout
Two months into his teaching career, Tyler Hester’s mother took him out for breakfast; he was so overwhelmed with his new job, he cried into his pancakes. Educators at Hester’s July 9 AFT TEACH conference workshop could relate. They were rapt as he led them through exercises and resources to boost their own well-being amid the most challenging year of their careers. The session was a sample of workshops from Hester’s Educators Thriving program and the Boston Teachers Union, a partnership made possible by an AFT Innovation Fund COVID-19 response grant.
Teaching literacy as a path to justice
How can educators point literacy toward the goal of racial equity? They must consider their roles in “creating a literacy that is inclusive and just,” explained Anne Harper Charity Hudley, an education professor at Stanford University, in a workshop on July 9, “Language and Culture Are the Building Blocks to Literacy.” She was joined by instructional coach Kimberly Bigelow and AFT national trainer Areli Schermerhorn.
Tweet of the Day
- Deputy Education Secretary Cindy Marten, AFT Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram and AFT Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus on the future of public education at 10:30 a.m. ET
- Closing wellness session on mindfulness at 1 p.m. ET