Note: The coronavirus pandemic has punished out bodies and spirits in countless ways, and few people have experienced more stress than classroom teachers. At Holly’s Pilates Village, we are fortunate to have many classroom teachers among our clients and teaching team. In this blog, Pilates Apprentice Teacher Kaitlin Cary Buck shares some strategies for personal health. (To find out how you can learn Pilates with an apprentice teacher for just $15 per session, contact us at 502-409-4200.)
By Kaitlin Cary Buck
Classroom teachers are resourceful. We are equipped to handle just about any situation thrown at us, from understaffed buildings, inadequate classroom supplies, and the countless unpaid hours spent planning and executing engaging lessons. So, when Covid-19 began to spread, and teachers were told to prepare for virtual learning for a few weeks during the spring of 2020, we were ready, confident that this would be another issue we could resolve with patience and creativity. We packed up our supplies of math manipulatives, chart papers, and any books and resources that we could fit into our cars as we readied ourselves for this new form of learning.
Then it all changed. A few weeks became months of 24-hour news cycles that chronicled the climb of infections and death rates, the requirements of face masks and social distancing, and the images of exhausted health-care providers working in overrun hospitals and clinics. In the Jefferson County Public Schools, we were logging on to a Google Meet Monday- Friday with 30 4th graders who were full of questions about everything but our typical math and reading. For the first time in my teaching career, I felt that patience and creativity were not going to be enough.
There was a heaviness to every interaction with students and families. Not only were we all dealing with a viral pandemic, but we were also asking families to learn complex Google Classroom configurations and assist us in teaching in this new format. Thankfully, summer was right around the corner, and we hoped that the threat of the virus would decrease with warmer weather.
Instead, we were limited to virtual learning again as we began the new school year. We worried about how students with learning difficulties, speech, and occupational issues would get needed services outside the classroom. We feared that students living in poverty would go hungry. The list of the problems continued to grow each day. And though we were focused and adaptive, we eventually became exhausted.
The shoulder pain, the stress headaches, sciatica, and the numb fingers and hands after long days of sitting on the computer became a common discussion among my colleagues. Teachers are good at caring for others, but we often fall short of knowing how to take care of ourselves.
Pilates came to the rescue for me. This full-body exercise is rooted in core strength, postural alignment, and balance, and I began to take this knowledge of healthy body mechanics back into my life. Rolling my shoulders down, engaging my core muscles, and focusing on my breath were simple things that I could do to take care of myself while also helping my students.
As I move closer to completing the requirements for Pilates teacher certification, I plan to help other caretaking professions learn how to incorporate this powerful system of exercise into their lives. I’m excited about guiding nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers, and many others who experience trauma in their workplace. All of us need to remember that we too need care sometimes!
Kaitlin is a teacher at Fairdale Elementary School.