This week has been some kind of week. 45 is out here doing the most to say the least. Klan members are butt hurt and not accepting they lost. Then there’s the latest episode of Game of Thrones. I wasn’t ready, but I will not spoil it for you. Lastly, school is in session, and all the videos and memes about parents expressing their excitement to drop their kids off for 8 hrs a day, to preserve the contents of their refrigerator has begun. I’m not going to front. I am excited about this new year, but there are some things I need to do differently than I did last year. For my students, their families, and my sanity. Let me explain.
This week, while preparing for work, my TV screen was this story of a Georgia teacher walking into school and killing himself after 18 years in the profession. My heart dropped. The students were on their way to school when they learned their teacher tried to kill himself. While there has not been news as to why he did it, there are so many speculations.
Another young teacher, from a Facebook teacher group, quit teaching in the inner city after 8 years. Between daily excessive misbehavior, large classroom sizes, harassment and low expectations from parents, lack of pay, panic and anxiety attacks, standardized tests, students performing below grade level, and feeling overwhelmingly under appreciated, she decided to walk away from the entire profession days before her birthday.
There are several stories like these floating around about the struggles teachers have been facing, especially with the increase of focusing on testing. Yet, through it all, we get up each morning, hoping we can have a brighter future with the students we teach.
In our efforts to making the world a better place, I hope that we remember the words of my awesome coworker, “You are only one.” We have to remember that we are human. We bend. We break. We tire. We become ill. We cry. We struggle. We fall. We get frustrated, but we are still only one, and it is important that we practice self care.
Self care can be anything you need it to be in order to find a way to bring peace to yourself. Over the past year, I have been trying to find out what that looks like for me. Some days it was crying in the counselor’s office, praying while purifying my classroom, blogging, or calling my former teachers to vent and seek guidance. Other days it was getting a massage.
This school year it is vital for me to be intentional about my self care. The last thing I would want to do is sit across from the doctor in excruciating pain, holding my husband’s hand, as she delivers the most heartbreaking news I had ever heard again.
Your mental health is important. You cannot successfully give to everyone else without giving to yourself. It’s ok to say no. It’s ok to say you did your best even if the results weren’t what you expected. It’s ok to admit when it is too much and you need help. You are not weak. You are human.
So to my fellow educators, preserve yourself. Remember your health. Remember your sanity. Remember to be to you and your family as much, if not more, as you are to your students and their families. You are valuable too. Treat yourself to self care every chance you get. In your efforts to provide an environment of safety for your students, do not forget to put your breathing mask on first in order to save yourself too.