Pre-service teacher Dana Visser (BMus’19) was in her element teaching guitar, pop/rock, music recording and electronic music at G.S. Lakie Middle School in Lethbridge when COVID-19 closed schools and brought her Professional Semester II to an abrupt halt.
The sudden end to her practicum created a gaping emptiness in Visser, and as the pandemic deepened so did a lost sense of control over her life. She became emotionally fragile, and soon a creeping sense of lassitude set in.
But things changed when the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education reached out to homebound students by email, sending them a list of free professional development resources to explore. Visser felt immediately buoyed, and took to Twitter to share the resource, along with messages of empathy and encouragement, to colleagues everywhere.
What activity gives you the most sense of personal well-being? Being outside gives me the strongest sense of well-being. I love going for walks, gardening, biking, and taking my study space outdoors. For me, being outdoors is my main stress reliever.
How have you had to adjust your wellness activity since the lockdown? Luckily for me, we are still able to go outside. There may be more restrictions in place, but I have still managed to enjoy the sun throughout quarantine.
Since the pandemic began, how has your life changed? I am a planner and by nature love to feel in control of my life. The uncertainties that have come with the realities of COVID-19 have made me extremely anxious. I’m very used to being busy with school and work, and when I was suddenly left with nothing to do, I didn’t know where to even begin. I felt hopeless. After receiving the email from the faculty and then eventually beginning summer classes, I finally felt a glimpse of hope. Although I may not be able to develop my skills in the field teaching students at this time, I have used this time to learn more about education through reading books, online professional development, and shared articles. With this new sense of productivity, I noticed an extreme shift in the right direction in terms of my mental health.
What advice can you offer colleagues who may be having difficulty coping at this time? Be kind to yourself and show yourself grace.
None of us would have ever expected to be in our current situation, so give yourself room to feel whatever you need to feel. Take time to refocus your goals and intentions, and do what makes your mind and body feel well.
After obtaining your BEd in 2021, what are your aspirations as a music educator? I believe music can and should be for everyone. I want to offer an inclusive and diverse music program that includes a variety of musical experiences for as many students as possible.
Related story links to the Faculty of Education Wellness Initiative series:
• The Faculty of Education WELLNESS INITIATIVE: Supporting a Focus on Health and Well-Being
• Wellness is Spending Time Outdoors: Dana Visser
• Wellness is Stillness: Jane O'Dea (dean emerita)
• Wellness is Coping with Stress Through Art and Music: Jenn Pellerin
• Wellness is Being in the Moment: Kenneth Oppel
• Wellness is About Having a Consistent Routine: Alex Funk (BEd '17)
• Wellness is Spiritual: David Slomp
• Wellness is Ranching: Danny Balderson
• Coping with COVID-19: Harnessing our Natural Stress Response
• Coping with COVID-19: Loneliness
Writer: Elizabeth McLachlan | Photo courtesy of Dana Visser
For more information please contact:
Dean's Office • Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
Twitter: @ULethbridgeEdu Website: uleth.ca/education
BecomeaTeacher.ca | BecomeaTeacherAssociate.ca | EdGradStudies.ca