Educators

Professional Development During the Pandemic

Kym Hardy, BSN, RN

It is no secret that educators are a part of the foundation of society. Teachers offer a smile, even on the hard days; provide a gentle hand to wipe away tears; and open their heart to care and listen.

Educators largely impact the way that the world learns and develops. What happens, though, when educators begin to become burned out as frustration, fear, and fatigue come knocking at the door – particularly during a global pandemic?

How do educators keep their spark alive and continue providing extraordinary care for their students during a time when the idea of online learning and professional growth seems overwhelmingly impossible?

Communicating with colleagues, building relationships, and feeding your soul with continuing education are essential during this time of uncertainty.

Here are 3 ways to accomplish this..

Establish a Mentorship

Try establishing relationships that nourish a safe haven to express your professional goals by developing a mentorship — after all, no one quite understands your workplace like your coworkers.

Being a mentor allows you to guide the mentee as they learn to balance the responsibilities of nursing education. Your role is to teach, answer questions, and provide support, all while challenging the mentee to develop leadership skills and grow as an educator.

When searching for a mentor, it is important to find someone whom you trust and who shares the same professional goals. You must be willing to place your trust in your adviser and be open to suggestions as you develop your own identity as an educator.

Know that there will be successes and failures throughout your mentorship, but trust that your advisor is there to help when times are hard.

Most importantly, know that the mentorship is not a one way street. Both the mentor and mentee must contribute to the relationship for growth to occur. Together, establish goals and frequently check-in to ensure goals are being met.

Network With Other Educators

The daily tasks of an educator can quickly become too much for one person to handle. Lesson planning, grading, and communicating with students and colleagues can be overwhelming, particularly during a time when the world of education is constantly changing. That is why collaboration and networking are essential.

Email and social media are great avenues to reach other educators and share ideas. When reaching out, try to:

Be Patient. You may not get the answer you are looking for right away. Rather than give up on the idea, be patient and continue following up.

Be Yourself. Do not fear reaching out to others. You have something extraordinary to offer and others want to hear about it!

Be Clear. Be clear and confident about the information you bring to the table. Be willing to share ideas with others.

Attend Virtual Events

Conferences allow educators to learn new things, remain up to date, and network with others. Live events, however, are a thing of the past – for now, anyway – and virtual conferences have become the new norm.

Virtual events present the same information that an in-person conference would, just in a virtual format. Conferences that educators may have been unable to attend before due to travel expenses or time allotment are now available from the comforts of home.

In addition, there is no risk for illness transmission and the opportunity for continuing education is infinite.

Make the most of the event by engaging information with other attendees to gain access to online resources, additional conferences, and strengthen relationships outside of your network. Many organizations have social media platforms that provide links and updates to new information.

Rather than finding yourself lost in the constant change, focus on the comforts of knowing that educators around the world are experiencing the same challenges. Expand your network by reaching out to other educators and take advantage of online resources. Remember, check in, stay connected, and embrace the change!

References: 

Levine, A. G. (2020). How to network during challenging times. Science magazine. https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2020/09/how-network-during-challenging-times

Zook, C. (2019). The 7 Best Ways to Avoid Teacher Burnout in 2020. Applied educational systems. https://www.aeseducation.com/blog/best-ways-to-avoid-teacher-burnout

TFA Editorial Team. (2020). Tackling COVID-19 Fatigue as a Teacher. Teach for America. https://www.teachforamerica.org/stories/tackling-covid-19-fatigue-as-a-teacher

Ellis, P. (2020). Teacher Burnout and COVID-19 Stress. Texas Association of School Boards, Inc. https://www.tasb.org/services/hr-services/hrx/hr-trends/teacher-burnout-and-covid-19-stress.aspxOlabayo, E. (2020). Academic Mentorship. Medium. https://medium.com/@olabayoemmanuel/academic-mentorship-eda142fe7ac0