1. Just Breathe.
I know that this is much easier said than done. As someone who struggles with anxiety myself, I have been looking for the all the calming and positive things I can find around me. For one, I have utilized Apps and Podcasts to help me stay centered. (More on that later.)
I have also started making a positivity journal. I try to think about the positives that have been peeking through because of the pandemic. Believe me, I could seriously get lost down the tunnel of despair if I had a negativity journal, but I really try hard to find the things that just would not be happening now, without this situation. Keep in mind, some days are a lot harder than others.
Here are some of mine:
1. I have seen teachers who are working so hard for their students, whether they be in the classrooms or remote. You have been pushed outside your comfort zones completely, asked to do the unthinkable, and yet here you are working hard each day for the community. Believe it or not, at the end of the day, you are all making a monumental impact for our kids. I am sure many things aren't as perfect as you want them to be, and at times I bet you think that you are failing. You aren't. You are present, kids are learning, and that is what matters. This is not the year to strive for that Golden Apple Award mentality, or to be the one who uses the most technology. We need to take it one day at a time, one week at a time, and one quarter at a time. Reflection is a huge key to how we move forward after each day. I have seen many of you fear technology in the past and are now using it every single day. This isn't the ideal way to plan a technology integration initiative, but here we are, making it work. When the elementary devices get here, ICSD will be one-to-one PreK-12 . That is scary and so cool all wrapped up into one for me.
2. Our IT team is closer than ever and working together to solve the many, many issues and needs that have come up. Incident IQ has made this process so much better for us. I hope it has helped you too!
3. Essential workers are awesome. I have a renewed appreciation for helpful and brave people, and for those who still answer the call to make our world work outside the remote environment.
4. I have learned even more about Blended and Flipped learning because I am either putting it into practice myself, or I am helping those that are putting it into practice. Believe it or not, you are putting that into practice too. You are designing online activities, Zooming with students, and making instructional videos, which are the building blocks for a solid blended environment.
5. After being home for so long, and also traveling all across town to serve 6 buildings, I appreciate the quiet office space that Kristy has carved out for me in the MS library more than ever.
6. Jamie and I had the time to teach our kids how to do their own laundry and other life skills. Weekly Family Game Night is now the standard, not a passing thought.
7. I have become more connected with my kiddos. I have seen their learning strengths and weaknesses, which I really hadn't had the opportunity to notice this deeply before.
8. I can cook just about anything on a Blackstone Griddle System . It isn't just for pancakes and burgers. I can make some mean chicken fajitas, quesadillas, and fried fair foods. S'mores egg rolls, fried pickles, and coconut shrimp are new family favorites.
9. I love taking walks with my dogs and walking off my new "Quarantine 15." (I blame the Blackstone for that by the way.) Speaking of which, the Sauter Family got a puppy during quarantine. Because....why not? (Photo included at the end of this page.)
10. After having a family member's health seriously impacted by COVID-19, I am taking the time that I should have all along to reach out to those that I love and tell them how much they mean to me. I had taken a lot of my tribe for granted for too long. That has changed now.
What are the positives shining through for you these days?
Here are some apps and things that I have been using, or know that others are using to help during this time:
The Calm app is very good, but it is not free and won't be for teachers until an undetermined date. You can still use the free version though. Headspace has a free teacher subscription. I signed up our domain, so if you use your school account to set it up, you should be good to go. Contact me with any questions. Headspace is like Calm, but they also have 1-minute calm downs, focus sessions, etc., which is different than Calm. Plus...it is free this year!
Gratitude Journaling, kind of like a positivity journal, is a great way to help people deal with stress. You can do this using Google Docs, the notes app on your phone, or there are free and paid apps to help you keep track. Check out your App Store or Google Play Store to see what app will work for you.
YouTube has a Meditation and Relaxation music channel.
Spotify not only has podcasts and great music, but they also have guided meditations if you are interested in those. You can sign up for free and try it out. You can find a podcast for just about any topic you are interested. Apple devices also have the original Podcast App. Podcasts remind me of listening to talk radio. They are great background noise if you like or need that sort of thing. Personally, I listen to a hilarious Mom podcast, which features two comedians living in Los Angeles. They are from Nebraska, so there is a Midwest connection. I also listen to history podcasts, and others that give advice, or teach something I want to learn more about. Ask me if you want to learn more about finding a podcast right for you.