#60 – Are You Okay? Building Resilience and Making Time to Care for Yourself

Unpacking Education October 6, 2021 26 min

For teachers, it’s easy to put students—their happiness, their emotional well-being, their mental health—first. When it comes to self-care—the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, particularly during times of stress—it just isn’t the forte for many teachers.

In this episode, the team shares their strategies, goals, and lessons learned about prioritizing self-care as a teacher. Filled with warmth, humor, and vulnerability, the team wonders how we might learn to give ourselves the same grace that we extend to others…and how to do that without feeling guilty. Easier said than done. We know.

Join us as we discuss the nature of self-care and the paradox of feeling like self-care means selfish, when in fact, the opposite is true. As a teacher, you work in a service-providing profession and teach social and emotional learning (SEL) to your students, but you may still find it hard to take the lessons that you are teaching and apply them to yourself. Now is the time for you to take the advice that you have been giving and intentionally engage in some much-needed self-care.

Our message to ourselves and our teachers: Be kind to yourself. Put your mental, emotional, and physical health first so that you can continue to be the best you can be for your students.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
STEM Facilitator and Digital Learning Specialist
Dr. Winston Benjamin
Social Studies and English Language Arts Facilitator

…You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.

Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi, character in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Prioritize Self-Care

You want to create a safe and supportive environment for your students. You want to provide SEL and teach emotional intelligence, resilience, well-being, and self-care so that all your students can thrive in this moment and in their future. Great!

But remember, you are the pilot of your classroom, and you need to first put on your own protective mask before putting one on anyone else. In other words, start by taking care of your own body, mind, and spirit, and make sure that you have everything you need in order to flourish and be an amazing teacher for others. If you don’t start by taking care of yourself, at some point—and possibly without even realizing it—you won’t have the energy that you need to support your students or family in the way you think they deserve.

Join us for a frank and vulnerable conversation about how we are learning to take care of ourselves when so much is pulling at our attention.

Key lessons that we have learned include:

  • Find your person. It’s critical to find the person, or people, who you can rely on to have your back, provide support, and offer a safe ear in which to vent. It’s okay to not be okay right now, for a variety of reasons—the ongoing pandemic, increasing responsibilities to ensure that students’ transition back to the classroom is safe, supported, and nurturing, and also managing the expectations of families as they navigate these changes. It’s a lot. You need someone who can hold your hand, metaphorically or literally, and ensure that you have the care you need for your mental and physical health.
  • Set boundaries. It’s so easy to blur the boundaries between your work and personal life. It’s time to determine a schedule that takes into account a start time, an end time, your self-care practices, and your personal “I need to be alone” time. You can’t pour from an empty bucket. Fill your bucket first. Make your health the priority.
  • Extend yourself grace without guilt. It’s hard to just be right now, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Recognize that the people to the left and right of you are going through it, too.
  • Find moments of mindfulness. Find small ways to take care of yourself throughout the day. Set a timer for 1 minute to take seven deep breaths. Take a 5-minute walk break. Commit to a short, guided meditation. Find a self-care practice that works for you and make it part of your daily routine.