Did you know that today is International Self Care Day?
Yep, there’s actually a day dedicated to it! 🙂
When we think about self care, its traditionally tied to the idea of self-pampering. You know, allowing yourself a feeling of comfort or ease. There’s a place for that type of self-care for sure. Particularly after a tough school year professionally or personally.
There’s another way that I conceptualize self-care though. Something that I think might be helpful to you on your teacher journey.
If we understand the idea of self-care as ‘caring for myself’, there are other ways that we can also care for ourselves.
Not every way in which we care for ourselves should be meant to comfort.
Sometimes, the best way to care for ourselves is to allow ourselves the time to grow.
In order for us to do that, we must strive. We must strain. We must struggle.
Growth is not easy. It is hard.
But you wouldn’t consider someone healthy if they were not growing.
So, therefore, we must consider the idea that implicit in self-care is also looking at ways in which we will challenge ourselves to think differently.
Be the kind of teacher who is comfortable with reflecting on the day to day decisions you are making. Be open to the possibility that there are things you still need to learn about.
There is nothing wrong with the occasional push back on tried and true ideas. There is no ‘shame’ in allowing your self to surrender to the idea that you should open your mind to a different perspective.
Be available to have conversations surrounding equity, race, gender, tech integration, etc. These conversations may be tough because you don’t have the background in them, but continuing to stay silent about a need to learn does not give you an opportunity to connect with teachers who are willing to teach you. Make sure that you’ve available to have these conversations so that you can grow!
Teaching is not all about us and what we do with the kids that makes us happy or feel good. Sometimes, we have to do tough work with kids on bias, behavior management or even conflict resolution. These things are NOT comfortable but each time we make strides in these areas, we GROW. When we are growing, we are caring for ourselves in a completely different way.
Remember when your students act up…and they will…that these are ALSO opportunities in which you can learn new things about yourself, and your ability to deescalate situations. Your relationships with your parents are an ‘arm’ of this type of growth. Allow these interactions to inform your practice. See an opportunity for new understandings in every engagement–particularly the negative ones.
This one is key. One invaluable way to care for your emotional state particularly before the school year starts, is to re-evaluate who you are following on social media. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about school, maybe its time to switch up who you are following. Do you have a mix of teachers you’re following? Or is your entire feed full of the same type of imagery? Unfollowing can be a healthy way of de-escalating your stress.
If you’ve tried many of the above listed suggestions, you might consider this final option. Give yourself grace for what you don’t yet know. Give yourself grace for the effort that you’re putting in, even if you’re not seeing much growth in yourself or your students just yet. Remember that you are on a journey. There is not a destination for growth. There’s always a way that you can improve. It is okay for you to do what you can and then take some breaks so that you can come back refreshed. Burn out isn’t going to help you or your students grow. So, make sure you’re giving yourself the right rest! 🙂