As I prepare for another school year, I am thankful for the opportunity to impact the lives of families. Being an educator is a commitment and we spend so much time focusing on the well being of others that we easily forget to take care of ourselves. Educators complain, a lot, about being taken advantage of and the truth is we’ve allowed it. We’re afraid to not go the extra mile because we might seek a promotion later and we don’t want to be characterized as lazy. We’re afraid to speak up because we don’t want to be labeled as vocal or aggressive. We’re afraid to take a day to focus on our mental health because we’re afraid it shows we’re not concerned about the academic needs of our students.
The truth is we’re in partnerships with families that say no. They speak up when they’re against something or they feel there’s a more efficient way to do things. And I’ve seen very few students in 25 years with perfect attendance. Clearly, there’s a disconnect. If they’re worthy of these “privileges”, why do we feel we’re not?
At this point I’ve had a chance to recharge and reset and I’m looking forward to flourishing this school year. While I’m ready to run the race, I’m setting firm boundaries to help me run to the finish line versus crawl to the end.
- Say, “no”. No is a complete sentence. It doesn’t need an explanation. If I’m tired and/or uncomfortable committing to something, the answer is NO.
- Take mental health days – Acquiring and preparing for a substitute is more exhausting than actually going to work. Years ago we use to prepare substitute folders in advance. I will definitely go back to doing the work beforehand so when I need a day, I’m going to take that day.
- Plan for the next day – When at home, I prep my lunch, iron clothes, bags are typically packed, etc. Everything needed to walk out the door is ready. This affords me the maximum amount of rest. I get laxed at some points during the year but I need to stay the course this year.
- Stop burning myself out on Mondays – My Monday “To Do” list is always hectic. I try to knock out as many tasks as I can and I’m completely drained by the end of the day and not looking forward to the next day of work. This year I’ll try to balance my schedule so that everything is getting done but it’s not costing me my sanity and every ounce of energy I had when I started.
- Workout – Many people that I work with workout in the mornings and then rely on coffee all day. I’m not a coffee drinker and I haven’t found anything that stops me from falling over when I workout in the morning. Since I know mornings don’t work, I have to be a lot more intentional in making sure I am prioritizing my physical health and staying consistent with working out in the evenings.
- Prepare my classroom for the next day – Just like I prepare everything at home, I’ll devote approximately 15 minutes to getting my room in order for the next instructional day/group.
- Get rid of distractions (Teacher Talk) – This is one that will allow me to do more. Teachers have a tendency to stop by your room with a question that turns into a 30 minute conversation about their dog, the baby and the traffic on their route to work. The reality is sometimes we just need to sit and feel like we have a friend but that’s 30 minutes gone. I’m guilty of this as well so I’ll make it my business to stay in my box so I can work or sit in silence and others can do the same.
I’m going to post my list of boundaries as a reminder to myself. Hopefully by having them visible I can stick to my own rules. What are some healthy habits you think teachers can do more of or less of to help with their mental, emotional and physical state throughout the year? What are some of your stress relievers?