Education Week 2021
It's Education Week! (January 17-23, 2021)
The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association (NLTA) designates a week each year to celebrating education and the importance of learning. The theme for 2021 reflects the current circumstances of all our students and educators and asks participants to focus on the 3Rs: Renew. Refresh. Reconnect.
This year’s theme is about renewing our focus on mental health, taking time to refresh after a very stressful year and reconnecting not only with yourself, but also finding new ways to connect with peers. This past year has been a challenging one for everyone but we are finding new ways to learn, new ways to connect and new ways to ground ourselves and focus on what is important.
As part of Education Week, Memorial's Faculty of Education reached out to a current student, a teacher, and the faculty's dean, to learn more about how they each plan to focus on the 3Rs: Renew. Refresh. Reconnect.
As part of NLTA's Education Week, Faculty of Education student, Simon Adu-Boateng, has made a commitement to renew his focus on mental health in 2021.
"We find ourselves in a new normal due to the novel coronavirus’ impact. Our ways of life have suddenly changed such that what used to be normal now seems abnormal. As students, we cannot visit friends, converge together on campus and in the library to study, interact, share ideas, and learn from each other. Instead of living together as a learning community, we have been compelled by COVID-19 to live apart. Social distancing has become our new normal, all to prevent the spread of this deadly pandemic.
Who would have thought that nations worldwide would close their borders, preventing international students from travelling to their universities or visiting home? Who would have thought that leaders around the world would lock down their countries, order schools and universities to shut down, and transition to an emergency remote learning? This is where we find ourselves, and we are uncertain about when life will go back to normal.
One thing is certain; the COVID-19 pandemic has brought untold hardships and challenges to humanity. While we all feel the negative impact of this viral pandemic, its effects on students’ mental health and general wellbeing have been unprecedented. Even before the pandemic struck, many of us were already struggling with several challenges, including anxiety, economic challenges, stress, and isolation.
Would you believe that a recent study by Son and colleagues (2020), which assessed the impact of COVID-19 on college students’ mental health in the United States, showed that 71% of students reported increased stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic? This study found several stressors contributing to increased stress, anxiety, and depressive thoughts among students. While 91% of students indicated that they fear and worry about their health and their loved ones, 89% reported difficulty concentrating on academic work. Simultaneously, 86% of students reported disruptions in their sleeping patterns, with 82% having increased concerns about their academic performance. While these statistics are worrying, that appears to be our new normal as students. At the same time, however, these unfolding impacts of COVID-19 are reawakening us and renewing our focus on mental health issues.
To this end, I have resolved, as a student, to renew my focus on improving my mental health wellbeing during this COVID-19 period by remaining hopeful and looking into the future with a positive mindset. This includes being open about my challenges and frustrations and sharing them with loved ones and people I can trust. I have also taken a keen interest in routine activities such as taking at least seven thousand steps a day while listening to music to improve my mood and relieve any feelings of depression. Finally, a group of friends and I have decided to create a platform where we could meet and share our challenges together as students and find common grounds for how best to resolve them and help each other.
The year 2020 has indeed been challenging; however, there is an opportunity in every adversity. Let us renew our focus and conversation around mental health during this pandemic."
As part of NLTA's Education Week, kindergarten teacher, Angela Rose, shares her thoughts on how to refresh after a stressful 2020.
"This past year has taught me many things. It has taught me how resilient our young learners are, how dedicated our teachers are and how work life balance is more important than ever.
Teaching is not a day job, it’s a job that you carry around with you day and night, weekdays and weekends. You worry about students, you worry you’re not reaching all learners and you worry you’re not always doing your best.
We all need a refresh button. We need to value our mental health, create balance, move and enjoy the fresh air. Spending time with my family has never been more important; listening to them, celebrating them, enjoying them. My approach to happiness and balance is simple, find the good things around you and take the time to enjoy them - let that be your refresh button."
As part of NLTA's Education Week, Dr. Karen Goodnough, Dean of Memorial's Faculty of Education, discusses the importance of staying connected and reconnecting during the Covid-19 pandemic.