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Dealing With Personal Tragedy In the Classroom

I experienced quite a lot of personal tragedy last year. And as a result of my stress, my students experienced them too. I tried so very hard to keep my personal life from affecting my students, but I’m convinced that sometimes no matter what you do, some events just can’t be disposed of at the classroom door.
Since last year was the hardest year I’ve ever had to deal with in my entire life, I’ve been reflecting a bit on it this year, trying to learn from experiences, should I ever go through something like that again. How could I make it easier on my kids? How could I take better care of myself? Did I have a good emergency plan in place?
Looking back on everything I’ve come up with five things that I would do differently:
Eat right. This sounds crazy, but if I don’t eat right I tend to be cranky. Also if I don’t eat right, my body doesn’t function well. No matter how difficult it was to stomach a meal, I should have made an effort to do a better job at it.
Make better substitute plans. I had to be out of the classroom quite a bit, and the last thing on my mind was to make thorough, tidy lesson plans for my sub. I know I should have done a better job with this in order to keep the kids engaged and the sub from having to scrounge up extra work or hunt down games.
Be open with my kids. My poor students were left looking like deer in the headlights. I never told them that I had some stuff I needed to deal with. I just didn’t show up. And when I was in class I was checked out most of the time. My students worry about me just like I worry about them. They didn’t know what to think when their teacher would need to be absent. It took away the consistency of their day and left them very concerned. All I needed to do was explain to them that I had some grown up things to tend to and it would have eased their little minds.
Use my breaks wisely. I felt like I was trying to play catch up during any free time I had. I should have been using these breaks instead for taking care of myself and tending to my needs so I could be reenergized for my kids when they returned to my classroom.
Lean on my team better. I’m not the best team player, and when it comes to being part of a teaching team I tend to be more in competition than collaboration. I’ve been working to be better at this, but I’m definitely a slow learner. I should have leaned on my team more. They were already in survival mode for me, but I know they would have done anything they could have to have made things easier on me and my class. I should have reached out to them more.
I certainly hope I never have to go through even half of what I went through last year, but if I do I will hopefully have a better plan in place. Do you have an emergency plan of action?

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