Today marks a month of our quarantine in Massachusetts at least for higher ed and K-12 as there are still people that are working in the health care, supermarket, and construction industries.
I have settled into homeschooling my son and weekly zoom meetings with my students, grading, cooking, and cleaning. By the way, my house has never been so clean or organized!
One thing that CONVID-19 has done, has made us to slow down and check-in with people. Whether that is my students, friends, or family everybody is calling, texting, and video chatting with everyone. I am receiving messages from friends I haven’t heard from in a long time. We are also taking time for ourselves by exercising, reading a book, watching a movie with a child and/or spouse in the middle of the day just because.
When I get on zoom I find myself asking students: How are you feeling today? Some students are saying fine because I think that is an easy answer. But some are opening up and saying that they are feeling overwhelmed, tired, uncertain about the future, and worried. Never in the last twenty-five years of teaching have I intentionally done a mental or emotional check-in with my students like I do now. As I am thinking about it, I wonder why? It isn’t that I don’t care about my students because I do, but there seems that there is never enough time to really check in with everybody.
The other type of discussion I keep having with my students is about exercise. So who is exercising and what type of exercising are you doing? One student told me jokingly that she will have a six-pack by the time she gets back to school. Personally, I am spending a half an hour on my yoga mat every day for the last twenty days and I have to say that I am seeing a difference in how I am feeling throughout the day.
The other conversation I am having with them is about self-care as well as the fact that they need to turn off their computers and phones because many of them are spending a lot of time video conferencing with their professors and classmates, which can be overwhelming and stressful for them.
Are you having these discussions with your students? Even if it is a few minutes before class starts it is really worth the time. I see my students smiling more and they are more talkative.
The lesson that I have learned so far during the quarantine is that I want to continue to make time and check in with my students and people I care as well as continue to take better care of myself.
How about you? How are you feeling today?