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KCS teachers advise how to combat emotional fatigue

School staff turn to a free resource to help with their mental health
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 2:50 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Many teachers said they feel the health and academic stressors of the upcoming school year.

“I’m worried, I’m frustrated, but I’m also kind of hopeful that through this crisis we can build an even stronger community,” said Jennifer Sauer, a middle school science teacher at South Doyle Middle School.

”We need to keep our distance to protect one another that, you know, that is frustrating for me. Extremely frustrating,” explained Anne Lefler, a fifth grade teacher at South Knoxville Elementary School.

These two teachers said they’re anxious about what’s to come this school year.

Their classes focus on collaboration.

“So while pandemics are not new, a lot of these challenges are not new, the way that we are addressing them are very new,” said Erin Canter with the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.

These teachers hope to get social and emotional support from each other and nature.

“Having a space to kind of go and have some quiet and some of that connection I think is so important,” said Amber Ford, a public health educator with the Knox County Health Department.

The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont encouraged educators to get outside to exercise their bodies and minds. If they can’t do that, they said just looking out a window at nature can be helpful.

”There’s a certain amount of that needed just for teachers and a certain amount of that social and emotional foundation and sense of ‘I’m not alone,” explained John DiDiego, with the Institute, “Even though I feel kind of alone in this, there are other people just like me in this very district, in this very school who are trying and learning and maybe we can, maybe we can do this together.”

This was an idea Lefler and Sauer said they would use to help them unwind.

“I think teachers really want a nice, peaceful space to really get that stress out,” said Sauer.

Lefler wanted to take her students outside to work in a school garden.

”It’s a good little brain break, even if we go out for five or ten minutes and say OK everybody pull a couple handfuls of weeds or something, it’s something to get em out,” explained Lefler.

They had advice to share with school staff going into the school year.

Sauer explained, ”I think finding time for yourself, every day is going to be key.”

“Be patient and give us grace,” believed Lefler.

To learn more about the free resources for educators, click here.

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