In the United States, there is a group of seven days a year acknowledged in the month of May, which we call ‘Teacher Appreciation Week’. But anyone connected to children or education (which is nearly everyone in some way) knows that to truly honor the dedication educators bring to their work each and every day, deserves deep appreciation every week of the year. While governing bodies are slow to pay attention to the support and care educators need – here is how UNESCO states the present situation – “Teachers are one of the most influential and powerful forces for equity, access and quality in education and key to sustainable global development. However, their training, recruitment, retention, status and working conditions remain preoccupying.” True, but educators still need support right now in caring for themselves, in order to care for our children.
To speak to that we found this great article titled “Educators: You Have Permission to Take Care of Yourself, Right Now” by Megan Sweet, EdD.
Educating our youth is a calling that draws some of the most hard-working and dedicated people. Teachers are also prone to burnout–in fact, last year, public school teachers quit their jobs at the highest rate on record. Educators, it’s time to start showing yourself care and compassion, right now.
- We enter this field with our eyes wide open that the pay is low and the work hours are long. Most of us also understand that educating our students will take all the love, attention, and energy we can spare. Education is a calling because, despite all these things, we do it anyway.
- While educators are incredibly giving towards their students, we don’t treat ourselves with the same level of care. Overwork is a badge of honor that many of us wear proudly. We tend to equate the number of hours we put in as a measure of our (and our peer’s) dedication to our students.
- The thing is, this kind of logic just doesn’t make sense. In a job where the physical, mental, and emotional demands are so high, how can we possibly continue to give our all every day if we have not spent time taking care of ourselves? If we imagine our reserves of energy like a bucket, we cannot continue to give from that bucket without refilling it. Many of us, however, empty our buckets and continue pushing forward without taking the time to rest and rejuvenate. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that we are prone to burnout and often leave the profession just a few years after entering it.
- It’s time that educators start filling their buckets by embracing self-care and self-compassion. Self-care means caring for oneself. Examples of self-care include getting enough rest, exercise, and healthy foods. Self-compassion means treating oneself with patience, kindness, and understanding. When we practice self-compassion, we use our mistakes as opportunities to soften and be vulnerable. Instead of beating ourselves up, we show ourselves heaps of love.
- Additionally, research conducted by Juliana Breines and Serena Chen (2012) has shown that when we show ourselves compassion after a setback, we are more likely to take action towards improving in the future. In short, self-compassion helps us to feel better, rebound from our challenges, and fuels us to keep going down the path of self-improvement.
The article continues with five ideas of ‘How can you start showing yourself care and compassion, right now?’
Author: Megan Sweet. Article originally published on Mindful Schools. – Megan Sweet EdD, is the Director of Training at Mindful Schools. She brings more than two decades of experience as a school teacher, school and district administrator, and a leader in school transformation. She’s an experienced Network Lead with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Her doctoral degree focused on Educational Leadership and Administration and she is skilled in Educational Consulting, Lesson Planning, Educational Technology, Instructional Design, and Curriculum Development. Megan is also a published author of An Educator’s Guide to Using Your 3 Eyes: How to Apply Intellect, Insight and Intuition to Promote Personal and School-Wide Transformation.