The ability to stay poised, focused, and positive while also being relaxed and flexible is one of the top challenges of being an educator. And, of course, the stresses that make self care harder have increased in the past year. That’s why the end of this school year offers a crucial time to reflect on good practices for keeping ourselves healthy, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Since teachers spend so much of their time building positive relationships with students, and understand the mental and emotional health of those students, understanding wellness and how to care for oneself is simply a part of the job. Below, we’ve collected resources to help you reflect, renew, and possibly build positive personal practices.
What Is Self Care?
Essentially, self care is the way in which we strive to make our own lives better, easier, or fuller.
…for teachers, self-care is so much more than breakfast in bed or treating yourself to a spa day. It’s about taking care of your health so that you’re prepared to be the best teacher you can be for yourself and your students.“Why Teacher Self-Care Matters and How to Practice Self-Care in Your School” Waterford.org
The National Institute of Mental Illness (NAMI) states that there are six elements:
Take a Video Break
Sometimes, all it takes is a short break to refocus. Check out these videos on self care to help you jump start your wellness process.
2020 Teachers of the Year on Practicing Self Care
Learn to Shine Bright — The Importance of Self Care for Teachers
If you have a little more time to dive into these topics, consider checking out these articles on how and when to focus on what’s important for your state of mind.
- Prioritizing Teacher Self Care (edutopia)
- Why It’s So Hard for Teachers to Take Care of Themselves (and Four Ways to Start) (Cult of Pedagogy)
- Why Teacher Self Care Matters and How to Practice Self Care in Your School (Waterford.org)
- Five Strategies for Teacher Self Care (ASCD Express)
Taking Care of Yourself During COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruptions in education and in life, and those changes have real impacts on how students (and educators) think, feel, and behave. Look through these readings on individual well being and trauma and change.
- Practicing Self Care During the Coronavirus: Five Tips for Teachers (Understoood.org)
- Self Care for Teachers of Traumatized Students (Resilient Educator)
- COVID-19: Resilient Educator Toolkit (Resilient Educator)
- Self Care Strategies for Educators During the Coronavirus Crisis: Supporting Personal Social and Emotional Well-Being (WestEd)
Going Further with TCEA
Looking for ways to develop long-term habits and skills to practice self care in your everyday life and teaching practice? Check out one of TCEA’s latest online courses, Cultivating Calm. The first three modules of this self-paced course will give you an overview of how stress affects our overall well being and techniques to deal with stress in your own life, both in and out of the classroom. The last two modules lead you in extending what you have learned to the classroom for your students. You can learn more at TCEA Courses.
Photo by Madison Inouye from Pexels
Dear Andrew Roush,
Thank you for emphasizing the importance of teacher self care. With the majority of teachers being women and the majority of classroom management books being written by men, I wrote a book for both genders from a female perspective. Dare to Connect: Redefining Success for the Modern Educator ( Rowman and Littlefield, 2021) looks at the whole teacher inside and outside of school and into retirement. This is a guidebook for life for teachers. I taught for 32 years in the public schools and retired in 2019. I came through with energy and the desire to give back to teachers. Teaching can be a rewarding career, but teachers need to know how and when to set boundaries, ask for help, and be proactive in their actions.