The world needs its mentors and educators. Teachers are the ones who equip the generations to come with the tools necessary to excel. It’s as simple as the relationship between cause and effect. Without them, society would dwindle, and the forward progress of everything would slow down to a snail’s pace. After all, education is one of the pillars that make up a thriving society, making teachers essential.
Teachers are also human beings. They have a life worth living and carry similar struggles as everyone else. The degree of those struggles may vary, but today, we’re going to hone our focus specifically on teachers who either have a disability or some form of chronic illness.
There are a lot of stressors that are one teacher in today’s world, and to have to deal with physical, mental, and/or emotional issues only stands to make it more difficult to maintain a sustainable well-being. Let’s explore the ways we can provide relief and support for teachers with disabilities.
There are a few ways that teachers can mitigate the obstacles of chronic pain and disability in the workplace. Remember that the specific issue that teachers deal with doesn’t have to define them. Their qualifications, character, and competency will outshine any ailment, whether it’s apparent or not.
- Be honest with yourself and others – You must have the freedom to express that condition in the way that suits you. It’s not something you need to hide, but it’s also not something you have to broadcast. It’s not dictating your life in a way that could make you less eligible for a teaching position than anyone else.
- Know your own limitations – It’s important that you self-identify what your own physical and mental limitations are so that you don’t accidentally get thrust into a situation that you can’t handle. You should consider expressing your known limits with the administration so they can be mindful of what they can ask of you.
- Join the DTN – The Disabled Teachers Network (DTN) is a source of community and connections intended to serve and assist disabled teachers. It contains a wealth of helpful materials and resources that can help disabled teachers around the world find harmony in their work.
- Use the superpower of empathy – Being an individual who suffers from a chronic illness or disability gives you a unique vantage point. Although it can feel burdensome to deal with discomfort or inconvenience, you may actually be able to harness that issue to help others.
- Know your rights and permissions afforded to you by the ADA – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is there to protect all individuals who suffer from some sort of disability. It is meant to protect employees and impose accommodation. You can rely on the ADA to request reasonable workplace accommodations that will help you perform your job better and in a way that won’t be needlessly taxing on you, physically or mentally.
Ways That Employers Can Help Teachers with Disabilities and Chronic Pain
Of course, while they should play an active part, it isn’t the sole responsibility of teachers to support themselves. Administrators and employers should also put provisions in place to provide the structure and support educators need.