The beginning of December. I can feel the heaviness in my step, hear the annoyance in my voice, and see the lack of creativity in my lessons. Welcome to three weeks before winter break. A time when teachers are counting the days left before their schools close for winter recess.
As teachers, we are trained to give.
We give and give, but we seldom take the time to replenish ourselves.
Throughout my teaching career, I have spoken to many of my colleagues from various walks of life and at different stages in their careers. From those conversations, teachers feel depleted on a regular basis, but they do not take the necessary steps to refill themselves. A fellow teacher in Morristown, NJ school district posed an eye-opening question: “We always talk about that the kids are tired and stressed. But, what about the tired teachers?”
As educators, how could we nurture ourselves so that we have energy to give to our students?
Since most of us are on a much-deserved winter break, let us take the time to reflect, recharge, and replenish. Here are some tips I received from my colleagues when I asked them ‘As a teacher, how do you take care of yourself?’
1. Taking a bath: relaxing and detoxifying;
2. Yoga: depending on a class, could be relaxing or energizing;
3. Sitting in silence for a while;
4. Spend time with loved ones [people, animals, or both];
5. Be at peace: pray, knit, sew, or just read in silence;
6. A walk in the woods does wonders for one’s focus and takes the edge off;
7. Writing or journaling is beneficial and can be rather cathartic.
8. Set a few hours this winter break and treat it as a very important meeting – with yourself. Review and reflect on your weekly, monthly and semester-long goals, analyze why some were accomplished, and others fell by the wayside. Life got in a way? Make a note to recognize the obstacles next time. Then, set new goals for the upcoming semester and anticipate problems while brainstorming possible solutions to those.
9. Take some time to reflect on this semester and then…Toot your own horn. Be proud of what you do in your classroom, and share, share, share! Include the beautiful things you do in your classroom in your emails or that newsletter to parents, community and/or school administration. Do not feel bad for showing off your craft – be proud of it!
10. Connect with your colleagues- in your school, district, state, region, or worldwide. Participate in a few Twitter chats, attend a #CoffeeEdu session, share resources using #teacherwellbeing, #edchat or any other hashtag that relates to your discipline.
On January 2, I will be back in my classroom. Rested, I hope to find spring in my step, genuine enthusiasm in my voice, and a chock-full of creative ideas ready to be turned into lessons.
What about you? How do you replenish your mental, spiritual, and physical reserves? Please join the conversation by sharing your thoughts!
Further readings: Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure