Sunday, August 23, 2020

Is 2020 the year we've been waiting for?

Back in June, I sent a Vox to my friend Debbie who also works at a large, public high school, and asked, "Have you listened to the recent Ali Brown podcast with Dafina Smith? We both listen to the weekly podcast and learn from the incredible women that Ali interviews each week. I shared in my Vox to Debbie, "They talk at the end of the podcast about 2020 and ask, "What if 2020 was just the year that we needed?"

By framing the question as a 'What if' question, it caught my attention, because I believe that 'What If' questions turn problems into possiblities. 

It was the first time I had heard someone talk about 2020 in a way that made me think differently about what was happening in the world, our country, our state, and our community. Believe me, there have been some scary and tragic events around COVID-19 and the pandemic. I definitely don't want to minimize the tragedies. I do want to be hopeful and also mindful that our purpose is bigger than the pandemic. 

Did you see the hopeful poem that went viral on Instagram? The writer, Leslie Dwight, begins like this: “A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw — that it finally forces us to grow.”

I've been thinking about the things that we've done differently this year, the lessons we're learning, and the realizations that are coming to us. I want us to come out on the other side with possibilities and not just problems. I want us to keep pursuing excellence as we face these hurdles along the way. By asking 'What If' questions, it keeps my thinking forward and not dwelling on losses, status quo, and despair.

Here's my 2020 edition of 'What If' questions. What would you add?

What if I stand up and speak for those who are weak or can't defend themselves?

What if I speak up about my faith and stand for it?

What if I pursue a career that brings me daily happiness, even if it means changing careers?

What if we celebrate the things that we do have and stop wanting for the things that we don't?

What if I connect daily with someone online who does what I do professionally for moral support, encouragement, ideas, and affirmation?

What if we finally give up doing the things that we know are not healthy for us?

What if I seek to own and enjoy my journey instead of seeking "balance"?

What if we stopped doing half of the things that we've "always done"?

What if we come out of this year better than before?

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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

How to Support Students' and Teachers' Mental Well-Being

This post is sponsored by WE Teachers, made possible by Walgreens. All opinions are my own.

One of the key reasons I started The Compelled Educator long ago was to create a space where I could share lessons learned, ideas, practices, and resources with others. My goal has always been to empower others in their journey to becoming the best version of themselves, which is why I'm so excited to share an incredible resource from WE Teachers and Walgreens with all of you!

Walgreens has partnered with WE Teachers to provide FREE resources to teachers all over the country. Times are changing, classroom needs are changing, and the free resources come at a perfect time as we are working through the chaos of a pandemic and trying to continue to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of students. It is a crucial time to help students, ourselves, and our colleagues to feel safe.

There are seven modules from WE Teachers that serve as professional resources for trauma-informed classrooms (The modules are also available in Spanish)

  • Introduction Module
  • Mental Well Being
  • Bullying
  • A Pandemic-Informed Community
  • Poverty
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Youth Violence

All of the free resources can be found at, where educators will find curriculum resources, online courses, online community forums, and other virtual learning opportunities. It's basically a one-stop shop to educate, support, and equip teachers!

WE Teachers TeacherHub

My interest lies with ALL of the modules, but I want to share about one in particular, the Mental Well-being Module. I fully believe that we can't help others until we help ourselves. 

Remember what the flight attendant tells you: Put on your own oxygen mask before you help others put their oxygen masks on.

The Mental Well-being Module is chock-full of good and actionable information. The first section helps to create a common understanding by sharing facts and statistics, definitions, and protective and risk factors. I love how WE Teachers has created a section that is devoted to creating a comprehensive foundation for all of us as we learn to support another person's well-being.

The next two sections are about mental health challenges and how to respond to students and nurture their well-being. A neat feature that is included is a Classroom Check-Up Tool. It's a chart that shares signs of normal development in children ages 5 to 18 and provides suggestions on how to support students at the different age levels. I also appreciated the section about social media and well-being. While there are many positive things that can come out of social media, it can also be a place that can cause problems for our youth and even be dangerous for them and their well-being.

The last section (before Resources) is titled, The Importance of Teacher Mental Well-Being. This is a section that I was greatly interested in, and it provided a ton of self-care tips and resources to help us help ourselves during trying times. 

This year is going to be like no other year in my 25+ years in education. I want to be ready and equipped for ALL of the curve balls, and I know how important it will be for me to be extra prepared to support our students and staff and their well-being during the pandemic. WE Teachers, in partnership with Walgreens, has created some phenomenal resources for us as educators. I will be using and sharing the modules at my school this year, and I encourage all educators to get all 7 modules at the WE Teachers Hub

In addition to providing a learning hub, WE Teachers also recognizes teachers that go above and beyond! The WE Teachers Award is a $500 Walgreens gift card. (How could you use $500 for your class needs??) You can nominate yourself or someone else who deserves it. 

Learn more and start the application or nomination process for teachers who go above and beyond

Direct application link

Direct nomination link

Note: The 2020-2021 application process is opening as of July 1st and awards are granted on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Use the links above to nominate yourself or someone else!

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