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4 ways to de-stress, from teacher-comedian Eddie B

Teachers are miracle workers, says comedian and former teacher Eddie Brown.


Photo courtesy of Eddie B Comedy

“We are miracle workers,” says Brown, known professionally as Eddie B. “We take someone that people gave up on -- they didn't have money or couldn't test well to get into a different situation -- and we mold that.”

But being a miracle worker is stressful, says Brown, who spent 13 years in the classroom. He still thinks of himself as part of the teacher workforce and is committed to advocating for his peers. His comedy shines a light on the rigors of teachers’ work, from managing the classroom, to working with school administrators and parents, to teaching myriad students. His upcoming show on December 19, Unmuted and Virtually Confused, will focus on the challenges of teaching amid a pandemic.

“We've got every kind of student in one class that you can think of -- SPED kids, ESL kids, kids with learning disabilities, kids who can't speak English -- all in one class. We have to try to troubleshoot and get all these kids, at different levels, to pass the test,” says Brown. Remote learning has exacerbated the pressure. “Teachers got their own kids. We’re trying to do a remote learning class and our kids are in the kitchen trying to do a remote learning class. It’s tough.”

Brown knows first hand what stress can do to health. One year his district went through drastic budget cuts and Brown worried for his job. That fear coupled with the challenges of the classroom took a toll on his body.

“One morning I woke up and one side of my face didn't work,” Brown says. “I thought I slept wrong.” A trip to the doctor revealed that he had Bell’s Palsy, a nervous condition triggered by, among other things, stress. The situation was a turning point for Brown. He knew then that he would have to manage stress better or risk further harm to his health.

Brown’s situation is not unique. Researchers say teachers are under enormous strain right now. Brown found his outlet in comedy. Here, he offers other ways teachers can combat stress and manage their mental and emotional health amid the pandemic.

Give yourself a break. A little transparency can go a long way toward preserving your sanity. “Be honest with your kids,” advises Brown. Let them know you’re all learning together and that mistakes and glitches are part of that process. Doing this humanizes you and earns you trust equity to keep moving forward. “Let’s just get it right by the end of the year,” Brown says. “We’re all in this together.”

Do what you have to do not to stress. What do you do -- or where do you go -- to put your mind at ease? “Find that and find that fast,” says Brown. Making time to exercise, read, pray or meditate pours fresh energy into weary bodies and minds. “Go to the park. Turn the fireplace on. Get to yourself. Meditate. Just relax,” he says.

Get your core together. Feeling unheard or unsupported is at the root of many teachers’ stress. Combat this by finding your teacher clique, recommends Brown. These are the teachers who work next to you and can be your support system. Communicate with them; confide your concerns. Discuss ways you can address administration together and make it a productive conversation. “You need to organize on the teacher level first and then come together and present something to administration,” says Brown.

You do you. Be creative and play your game -- the game that you know gets students to respond, says Brown. “Teach how you teach. Put your own twist on teaching, find your style,” he advises.

And find something you love about your work, Brown says. It will help you manage the stress and keep your eyes trained on what matters most: your students.

“Teaching is a profession that got velcro on -- you’re gonna get stuck,” Brown says. “You're gonna begin to foster relationships, mainly with the kids. You're gonna be an intricate part of their growth.”

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DECEMBER 19: Unmuted and Virtually Confused

Join Eddie B and teachers around the world Saturday, December 19 at 6:30 PM EST for “Unmuted and Virtually Confused.” The show is dedicated to teachers for their work with remote learning.

“I'm gonna talk about a lot of real stuff that people don't know that teachers go through,” says Brown. “I'm gonna discuss things that only teachers know but hey, why not let them into our world? Sit down. Relax and let’s laugh about this stuff. Don't stress.”

Tickets are available online at EddieBComedy.com.

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Kanoe Namahoe is the director of content for SmartBrief Education and Business Services. You can reach her at kanoe.namahoe@futurenet.com.

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