(For context if you’re reading this after 2020, I am writing this during quarantine due to the Coronavirus.  What a time to be an educator.  This email response from a kind, loyal educator just gives us a glimpse into what life is like right now.  It’s tough…but so are we.)

I received this email in response to a newsletter I sent out just asking if anyone needed encouragement.  Quite a few people responded and I was so touched by the fact that they thought I could actually help in some way.  I certainly tried to provide whatever wisdom I had (which is very small…I assure you!)…but, ultimately, I think the best support I can provide anyone right now is perspective.  Look…we aren’t miracle-workers and the last thing any of us needs is more free stuff to do on top of what was already weighing on us before this freaking virus!  Let’s slow down, be methodical and realize that all is not lost or buried even!

Email I received:

Hi Jill,

It’s Samantha (not her real name) from Michigan (but it is her real state!). We did that PD this winter with you. We just found out face to face learning us cancelled for the rest of the year….If you could share some encouraging words to the staff that would be great.

Thank you!

My attempt at an encouraging response:

Hi Samantha!  Of course I remember the PD we did together…that was fun and you guys were a great group!

Ugh…face-to-face teaching being canceled feels like a punch in a gut a bit…our governor announced the same thing yesterday and I think it makes things feel terminal like they’re never going to change.  BUT THEY WILL.

Here is my encouragement to you (and to me, too, if I am honest!):

  • Don’t try to be super teacher/super coach – you are not being judged by your output…your compassion and timing and just touching base with teachers/students is going to be what your highest priority is
  • Realize that your students received A LOT of great face-to-face instruction already in the school year…YOU ARE NOT AT ZERO….you have a whole bunch of teaching foundation that you built already
  • Focus on 1-2 things that you want kids to strengthen skill-wise and make that a priority over the REST OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.  To be honest, we are not going to do our best teaching to every single one of our kids through Zoom.  So, set out to just strengthen a couple of skills that will be a great set-up for the next grade level.  TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF OF YOURSELF
  • Honestly?  Unfollow on social media the people who make you feel like you’re not doing enough as a teacher.  I had to unfollow a woman that I really admire because I was feeling like such a loser because I hadn’t cooked some meals from scratch and itemized my day completely on the second day of quarantine.  We don’t need that pressure!  (And by the way, I’m at about Day 20 of quarantine and I haven’t done either…and I don’t need a stranger to make me feel badly!
  • Finally…daily remind yourself of this: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING SO THERE IS ODD COMFORT IN THIS! (HA!…BUT SO TRUE!)

And then some coaching advice to you:

  • Send an email out to your teachers that asks them two questions:
    • What are you most overwhelmed by right now?
    • How can I help?
    • …and then set out to help them on the thing that is most overwhelming them right now.  Helping others will make you feel so useful and will be so appreciated by your staff.

Let me know how you guys are doing…I am here!


What do you think?  Can you relate to Samantha?  Do you need some coaching practicality in your life?  Then, check this out.  It’s right up your alley.