It feels right to reach out personally to you all with a letter. In my role as the Fine Arts Consultant for Oakland Schools, I’ve conducted countless hours of professional development and have recently seen a shift in what teachers want to hear and do post-pandemic. Rather than rewriting curriculum or learning about the importance of integrating disciplinary literacy strategies, teachers want collegial time together where discussions can focus on their well-being, their school’s culture and how best to create community in their classrooms and schools.
I find these times, influenced by political ads, interviews, and rhetoric plus pandemic disruption make me confused, sad, and kind of depressed. Focusing on mental health is becoming of the upmost importance. Post pandemic (although it’s not really gone), teachers are leaving the profession as they are overwhelmed, stressed, burnt-out, and/or feeling a lack of support from parents, administration, and elected officials.
We, at MAEIA, recognize that students need the arts now more than ever. You are the reason many kids come to school and that sense of community created in your classrooms is vital to everyone’s mental health. I’ve been told by many teachers that arts classes are the only ones that are truly connecting kids to their school. That’s pretty powerful – bravo to you!
But what’s being done for you, the arts educators? The practitioners? In my recent district presentations, because there’s been a great deal of focus on student well-being, staff have asked “What about me?” So, I would like to suggest a few Take Good Care self-care remedies that are simple and will have great impact if you try them. Promise me you’ll try at least one.
- Don’t recreate the wheel! Utilize all the wonderful tools and resources from MAEIA and share them with your colleagues to make lesson planning easier.
- Look for MAEIA’s Better Together in the Arts workshops to convene and collaborate virtually with other arts educators to develop effective strategies for engagement, instruction, and assessment. You’ll gain a community of peers that creatively problem-solves, shares resources and insights, and receives support for their own professional and personal well-being. Email MAEIA Professional Learning Director, Heather Vaughan-Southard, for more information. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Even though you feel overwhelmed, schedule time every week to do something you really like to do for yourself – making art, piano lessons, trying a new recipe, exercise, calling a friend, reading a book, getting a manicure or massage, the list is endless.
- Even though it seems like you don’t have time, take a few minutes regularly to declutter and get yourself organized. You will feel so much more in control.
- Know when to say no and avoid carrying guilt about it.
- Disconnect – turn off the news, social media, and your phone from time to time.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
- Drink lots of water (not coffee!) and be sure to eat regularly.
- Try to move more and sit less.
- Work smarter, not longer.
- Shut off the world earlier and get more sleep.
- Go outdoors and breathe that wonderful fresh air, no matter how cold.
- Reach out to someone if you’re feeling overwhelmed. (If you’re worried about who, email me at email@example.com)
- Take a moment to express gratitude.
Please keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing and what’s working for you. And remember, you promised to try at least one tip in my list!
Take good care,
Hedy Blatt, Fine Arts Consultant
Hedy Blatt has been a MAEIA fellow since its inception and considers herself its ultimate cheerleader. She has been the Fine Arts Consultant for Oakland Intermediate School District (Oakland Schools) since 2004, providing and facilitating staff development and as-needed services in fine arts education throughout the 28 school districts in Oakland County and beyond. Prior to Oakland Schools, she was the Fine Arts Director for the Troy School District for 20 years, simultaneously serving as the District’s Community Relations Director for 12 years. During her over 30 years in education, Hedy has taught all levels of music, theatre, and language arts in both public and private school settings. Hedy has also taught on the university level, written for and performed in professional children’s theatre, presented at multiple fine arts and public relations conferences, and is a published composer.
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