Spring Break is here!!! Finally! It’s a long-awaited and much-needed reprieve from standardized testing, parent-teacher conferences, student drama, after-school programs, professional development sessions, and overall hectic schedules that are just part of this teacher life that we love — and hate — at the same time!
We teachers give so much of ourselves to so many others that too often we neglect to take care of ourselves. We spend all day nurturing students, reassuring parents, and encouraging one another. We go home to nurture and attend to our families. We go to sleep. Wake up. Repeat. For most, this has been our routine for years. We need to rejuvenate ourselves. If we don’t, we run the risk of damaging our students and ourselves. According to Marie Delaney, educational psychotherapist and teacher trainer,
Schools and teachers are usually very good at thinking about the well-being of their pupils. We consider ourselves to have a duty of care to our pupils. We do not usually think about our own well-being – until it is too late and we are sick. People who take on caring roles are often not good at looking after themselves.
It is vital that we manage our own well-being; we cannot manage pupils and learning if we cannot manage ourselves. Children come in every day to school and more or less do the same thing, sometimes having slightly better or worse days. What makes the difference is the reaction of the adults around them. Taking time to manage your stress is essential in order to teach effectively and to help students manage their own stress around learning.
This idea of teacher wellness is one that is being discussed more and more. In some arenas it is called the “Whole Teacher Movement.” According to Francesca Warren, teacher and founder of The Educator’s Room, “It starts with understanding what a valuable asset teachers are with not just educating our children but to threads of our society.” Warren believes so strongly in this concept that just last month she held a conference all about teacher self-care in the Atlanta, Georgia area that was attended by teachers from all over the country. Specific strategies were discussed in order to promote teacher value and prevent teacher burn-out and turnover. I am hopeful that more conferences like this will become the norm, instead of the exception.
This Spring Break, let’s make a commitment to take care of ourselves. What does that look like? Of course, that will mean different things to different people but off the top of my head I would suggest:
- Going for a walk
- Getting a massage/facial/mani/pedi
- Taking a hot bath
- Curling up in bed with a good book/good movie
- Sleeping in late
However you can show yourself some good old-fashioned, restful, relaxing, tender loving care, just do it. You deserve it. You’ve more than earned it!