Address the stress

By Sharron Helmke
October 2020
Vol. 41, No. 5
It’s the start of another school year, but unlike any other in our careers. This year, we find ourselves at the nexus of a widespread, months-old pandemic and racial trauma that is centuries old. We cannot pretend this is an ordinary school year. For many of us, there is fear in our classrooms, fear in the streets, fear of being in crowds, and fear for our families, to name just a few of our concerns. This layering of health stress that started months ago with the racial trauma that has gone on for generations is not something we can check at the door as we enter school. With no immediate end to either in sight, these crises and the resulting trauma will be with us

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References (2020, April 1). Stress and productivity: What the numbers say.

Connley, C. (2020, June 10). 4 ways to cope with racial trauma amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuncic, A. (2020, March 22). An overview of work anxiety. VeryWell Mind.

Goldstein, D. & Shapiro, E. (2020, August 13). I don’t want to go back: Many teachers are fearful and angry over pressure to return. The New York Times.

Hanson, R. (2020). Take in the good.

National Association of School Psychologists. (2020). Coping with the COVID-19 crisis: The importance of care for caregivers tips for administrators and crisis teams.

Pawlewicz, D.D. (2020, July 10). The school reopening debate reveals that we don’t listen to teachers about schools. The Washington Post.

Plett, H. (2019, August 17). What it means to hold space for someone. Uplift.

Porter, T. (2020, June 22). Reflecting on teacher wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regional Education Laboratory.

Teachers Thematic Group, World Bank. (2020, May). Three principles to support teacher effectiveness during COVID-19.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Sharron-helmke-338x400-1
Vice President for Professional Services at Learning Forward | + posts

Sharron Helmke is vice president for professional services at Learning Forward. She designs and manages the organization’s consulting service programs that support state, regional, and local organizations in translating their improvement and learning goals into custom-designed high-quality professional learning programs that result in scalable and sustainable change. During her twenty-plus years in education she has served in a variety of roles at the campus and district levels, including teacher, instructional coach, and district-based program administrator. She is an international coaching federation certified professional coach, a Gestalt professional coach, and a trauma-informed care provider, all of which inform her approach to supporting educators. She is the author of numerous professional articles, including “To make a difference for every student, give every new teacher a mentor” in the August 2022 issue of The Learning Journal.

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