It’s not just first responders who are feeling compassion fatigue, it’s happening to teachers and school counselors who are struggling with distance learning. Absorbing the fear and trauma of those they serve is a reality for front line workers – and now for educators, too. Distance learning has caused some teachers and counselors to experience their students’ difficulties more deeply than before.
Because Learn4Life teachers are responsible for 32-35 students, compared to 150-180 at traditional schools, they have a closer relationship with each student. And these students face more challenges than the average high school teen including, poverty, pregnancy or parenting, homelessness, foster care, violence and more.
“While our staff provides a trauma-informed program of personalized learning and one-on-one support, we are training them on the pitfalls of compassion fatigue and to recognize grief in students, and potentially in themselves,” said Dr. Caprice Young, national superintendent at Learn4Life. “Just as we train our students to cope and take care of themselves, we want to be sure our staff does the same.” Here are some tips:
- First, be aware of the warning signs, which include a lack of empathy, increased irritability, exhaustion and depression.
- Nurture your own emotional self through stress management activities like daily exercise, meditation and yoga.
- Create healthy boundaries. Adjust the work-life balance to fit a new virtual world and adhere to personal boundaries, like when to start and when to shut down or disconnect.
- Develop professional and personal support systems of people who will help you recognize if you are exhibiting signs of burnout or compassion fatigue.
- Be mindful of your own limitations and barriers. Seek personal counseling when necessary.
Early on we established a Wellness Team for our employees, which provides daily tips, videos, webinars and live video visits on topics such as emotional self-care, exercise, mindfulness, nutrition, healthy habits and more. We created short videos with 15-20 teachers providing tips and advice based on their own experiences to support their fellow staff members.