Author and literacy expert Pam Allyn shares three tips for educators to help prioritize and create space for mental and physical wellbeing.
The resilience of educators across the nation continues to amaze me as countless hours and immeasurable efforts are spent supporting the needs of all children, in and out of school. Educators, you are my constant inspiration. You work with your whole hearts, minds, and souls. And while I am wonderstruck by your devotion to your students, I implore you to take the time to take care of yourself as well.
Though being responsive to the changing needs of our students might be top of mind, we must recognize our needs as an equal priority. It is in the best interest of students and teachers. This is especially critical right now, as findings from the Scholastic Teacher & Principal School Report: 2nd Edition reveal that about six in ten educators are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their personal health (62%) and their own social-emotional wellness (59%).
To help all educators prioritize their mental health and physical wellbeing during this challenging time, here are three steps to help curb burnout.
We are constantly adjusting to the evolving landscape. Amid the new challenges of your workday, it is important to have a heightened sense of self-awareness in order to assess your current needs. Stay in tune with yourself and others by setting an intention to check in regularly. Try writing in a journal to keep track of your thinking. Send a colleague a brief text to let them know they are not alone.
Whether you are combating Zoom fatigue or a seemingly endless to-do list, your needs likely look different this year. Just as we are adaptable and nimble in meeting the needs of our students, we must recognize and prioritize our needs as well. Give yourself a break from work by watching a fun TV show or reading a magazine. Reach out to a friend or colleague with a silly cartoon or a beautiful photo of nature. Attending to your needs will look different from person-to-person but take the time to discover what works best for you!
With limited time in the day, it is important to prioritize daily practices that support your well-being. Find stability by ingraining wellness practices before, during, and after your school day. Again, wellness means something different for each person. It may mean picturing a place that brings you peace amid your packed schedule. Or maybe it’s a bowl of ice cream after a long day! Don’t be too hard on yourself; show yourself the same kindness as you do to others.
As educators, we know that doing important work takes time. I hope you will let these tips guide your wellness journey, but may it not stop there. Listen to yourself, lean on others, and learn to prioritize your well-being. Cultivate connection so that it may bring you joy and nourish yourself so that you may nourish others. Take time, take care. We need you.
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- NEA: Helping Students and Educators Recover from COVID-19 Trauma
- U.S. Department of Education: COVID-19 Resources for Schools, Students, and Families
- District Administration Magazine: 350 Free K–12 Resources during Coronavirus Pandemic
- Yale Child Study Center - Scholastic Collaborative: Coronavirus Resources