California Educator

April/May 2021

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What About You? Educators' mental health challenges during a pandemic — and how to boost your morale By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Laura García López says taking time to replenish yourself helps with your mental health. "If you can't take care of your mental health, you can't take care of your students." For Kristen Acosta , virtual instruction and online sta meetings have begun to blur; every day seems like Groundhog Day. At times she feels melancholy. "Being in crisis mode for a full year wears on you," says the sixth grade teacher at Merlinda Elementary School in West Covina. "I miss my teacher friends, and I'm tired of teach- ing to a bunch of black squares because students don't turn on their cameras. I'm stressed out. My blood pressure has risen." Adrienne Solorio, a resource teacher at Center Elementary School in Fair‹eld, has experienced migraines and anxiety. She stopped visiting social media sites, where people berate teachers for not returning to in-person learning, using terms like " lazy" and "selfish." Meanwhile, the single mom works 12-hour days teaching from home and cares for her 7-year-old son. Mar y Wiegmann , president of Romoland Teachers Association, has been teaching a fourth and ‹fth grade combination hybrid class since August at Romoland Elementary School. Tran- sitioning to di erent types of instruction — and meeting the needs of her stressed-out members — has given her anxiety and sleepless nights. W H E T H E R W O R K I N G R E M O T E L Y, teach- i n g i n s o c i a l ly di st a n c e d c l a ssro o m s , o r combining online and in-person learning, edu- cators are experiencing stress as never before. EdWeek Research C enter's sur vey from November shows that teacher morale has plumm et ed during th e pandemic. O f 817 teachers surveyed, three-quarters say their morale is lower than it was pre-pandemic. e survey says teachers are trying to be strong for their students and shielding them from their feelings of stress and burnout. E ducators say th e y are w orkin g hard er than ever before — averaging eight hours a "I have learned to worry about only the things I can control." —Kristen Acosta, Teachers Association of West Covina 28 Feature Kristen Acosta

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