Updated: May 11, 2021
Teachers have had a year like no other. Our profession has become one of the most stressful occupations during this global pandemic.
Teacher stamina is a critical concern as we wonder how teachers will sustain the emotional, mental, and physical energy that remote or hybrid teaching takes right now.
As educators, so many of us have been taught to pay attention to the needs of others and take care of other people in our lives. We often abandon our own needs and feelings by solely focusing on the needs of others. It is a very natural trait for educators as so many of us are caretakers by nature.This caretaking has been at the bedrock of teaching for decades.
But now we know better.
It is not sustainable.
Now more than ever, teachers need to put themselves first and begin to look at how they are taking care of themselves. How good are we at checking in with ourselves and asking ourselves what we need on a daily basis? Our resilience this year will come down to these practices: Slowing down and checking in with ourselves and then taking care of these needs as a form of self-care.
Self-care often receives a bad rap and lately it has become obsessively overused. However, by identifying and acknowledging our current stage of teacher burnout, we can begin to look at out-of-the-box practices in an effort to take care of ourselves.
These granular practices bring a conscious awareness to our lives allowing us to honor our emotions and put ourselves first. It begins with the commitment of keeping daily promises to ourselves. Self-care is not triage. It’s not something to use sporadically. It is a series of very small daily practices that yield great rewards.
By getting quiet and reflecting inward, we begin to identify very personable, 10 minute practices around self-care. Keeping these small and consistent ensures that self-care isn’t just another item on our already overwhelming to-do list.
These small promises, our small secrets to ourselves, prioritizes our needs first which is a habit many of us haven’t developed yet.
And once we get this habit under our belts, can you imagine how helpful this will be to teach our students?
If we can teach kids the practice of getting quiet, asking themselves what they need, and then keeping that promise to themselves, imagine the trust and self-awareness that would develop?
Can you then imagine what kind of adults they would grow up to be? This is the mindful teaching I dream about.
But it starts with us.