By the OER Project Team
We’re nearly a year into this pandemic, and we are all still finding our footing. Between teaching, caring for the health of ourselves and our families, wearing masks, and spending a whole lot of time in isolation, the difficulties of this year have highlighted the necessity of carving out small moments of calm.
Thank you, everyone, for sharing with us your mini-getaways and the other ways you’re caring for yourselves during this remarkably difficult year.
Without further ado, we have some awards to present!
The “best seasonal scenery” award goes to Anne Koschmider, who’s making the case for getting outside no matter what the weather—sunny blue skies or a blizzard!
The award for “best new pandemic tradition” goes to Hajra Saeed. Hajra, we love your practice of taking a daily photo of a flower or tree in your neighborhood to share with your loved ones. What a beautiful way to appreciate and share small wonders in life.
The “best of both worlds” award is presented to Brian Moore. Brian, we love that you found little escapes both inside (fighting space aliens) and outside (on the trail). And hey—thanks for protecting this here planet Earth from the aliens!
And finally, we’re surprising one of our awesome OER Project Community members with a little something to enhance his calm: Curt Greely, we love the beach scenes you shared—what a breathtaking sunset. And those Dr. Pepper ribs sound delicious—much better than our sad desk salads!
Read on for Curt’s advice on balancing teaching and family, and hear about the greatest lesson he’s learned during the coronavirus pandemic.
OER Project Team: You shared several pictures of your escapes, which is your favorite, and why?
Curt Greely: Cutting smoked ribs is my favorite photo. I love to cook and grill for our family. We have a lot of family that lives in our little town of Santa Maria. One of our long-time family traditions is our Sunday night dinners that can have 20 to 25 people attend—prepandemic of course! Making Sunday dinner, even for curbside pickup, has given us a sense of continuity and helped us to maintain a feeling of regularity, at least on Sundays. Plus, we get to eat some pretty awesome stuff!! Can't wait for a time when we get back together.
OER: How important is it to make time for yourself?
CG: Time for self-care is not selfish, it’s necessary. During our shutdown in March 2020, I ended up working all hours of the day and night, even weekends, and responded to requests whenever they came in. Since we went back to school in August , I have been a lot better at drawing boundaries—being available during school hours—but I’m still able to do some of my assessment and planning and building out our classroom activities without excessively taking away from my family or personal time. I think I became more territorial with my time and I seem healthier for it.
OER: What has been the greatest lesson you’ve learned about yourself during this pandemic?
CG: I have always been mostly self-sufficient, but I miss the opportunity to interact with my colleagues, bounce ideas off one another, and the friendly banter that came before and after classes, both with colleagues and students. To help triage the lost interaction with others, I’ve turned to daily exercises with mindfulness and meditation to become more reflective and considerate of what we as individuals and a collective are experiencing. I think that I’ve taken the time and made the effort during this journey to become a better teacher, person, father, and spouse. Lifelong learners, right? ;-)
OER: What advice do you have for teachers as they’re trying to balance teaching and family?
CG: It's too easy to get consumed with trying to build and provide the best experience for students that you can. It can turn into a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week venture, if you let it. Give yourself the same grace that you would for a family member, a colleague, or a student. If, when we’re done with this experience, there are student gaps, we’ll attend to them. Your best is good enough; take time for yourself and your family. Who is going to take care of you if you don't take care of yourself?
Want to get in on the fun? Join us in the OER Project Community to talk teaching tips, ask a question, or share your own moments of peace and calm.
Cover image: White gravel is raked along the edge of moss and rock in the Zen garden at Daishin-in (built in 1479), a Buddhist sub-temple of Myoshinji Temple, located in the northern area of Kyoto, Japan. © B. Tanaka / Corbis Documentary.