Virtual Office Hours Offer Professional Support for Educators’ Mental Health and Wellness

United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Resilient Lehigh Valley and Pinebrook Family Answers assembling expertise to assist early learning, elementary and secondary school teachers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be a challenging time for many families. Much of the burden for keeping students on track has fallen on teachers and school administration, who have been called upon to radically change the way they teach in order to accommodate both in-school and remote learning. While educators focus on making these dramatic and ongoing changes, they are often required to deal with students who are stressed, having difficulty coping with new learning venues, and may have limited supervision. Counselors and mental health professionals in the schools are equally burdened and often lack the capacity to assist teachers with new and challenging student behaviors.

United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Resilient Lehigh Valley and Pinebrook Family Answers have joined together to offer virtual office hours for regional educators starting December 10. The goal of the meetings are to give teachers and other school personnel an opportunity to ask questions of mental health professionals, trauma experts and school-based behavioral health staff. The focus of the one-hour virtual discussions will also be to identify difficulties that individual teachers may be facing and offer an opportunity to brainstorm both the antecedents to these behaviors and some strategies for addressing them. Other questions that may be addressed relate to managing stress and the many challenges facing all of us.

“Pinebrook Family Answers, United Way and Resilient Lehigh Valley have been hyper- focused on the health of our educators and students since the pandemic began,” states Leslie Ten Broeck, VP of Behavioral Health for Pinebrook Family Answers.

Last spring brought on seismic shifts in education and the realities of these changes are still being felt. Our goal with these sessions is to support those who support our children and to keep the pillars of our Lehigh Valley education system resilient and strong.

 

Virtual office hours begin December 10, 15 and 17 with times reserved for early learning, elementary and secondary school educators. Further sessions will be scheduled in January and February.

December virtual office hours are as follows:

  • Early Learning Educators: Thursday, December 10, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
  • Elementary School Educators: Tuesday, December 15, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
  • Secondary School Educators: Thursday, December 17, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Beth Tomlinson, Senior Director, Education for United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and co-founder of Resilient Lehigh Valley notes, “This is a great opportunity for teachers to connect, get advice and feedback from trained professionals while hearing from other educators who are experiencing similar issues. Unfortunately, the struggles of virtual and hybrid learning in the midst of a pandemic are not going away anytime soon.”

Educators will be able to submit questions regarding student behavioral issues, high- pressure classroom conditions, virtual learning concerns, and other topics of concern when registering for office hours. Trained school-based behavioral health counselors will respond to submitted questions throughout the session.

Teachers can register for their office hours time at www.unitedwayglv.org/events. Additional sessions will be listed on Resilient Lehigh Valley’s website within the coming weeks.

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