The Honeymoon Is Over: Self Care is What Will Get Us Through the School Year

The adrenaline and excitement that comes with the start of the school year is felt by teachers, administrators, parents, and students. Class cultures are well underway, and for many teachers, the reality of this career is setting in. Teaching is far from a nine to five job, it’s one that we carry with us well past the time the end of the day bell rings. The best advice I’ve ever received about this work is that it’s “not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” One that requires sustainability to make it through successfully. Edutopia has published a great resource that lists multiple strategies to support teachers in practicing better self care during the school year, the following are the highlights along with reflections on how to practice them daily.

Stay grounded, even in the middle of the school day.

I’ve made it part of my class routines to provide students with a brain boost every single class period. This is a three minute break in which students have a chance to socialize with one another, eat a small snack, and stretch and walk around. Most recently, this has been my reminder to take a few deep breaths and over the last few weeks, students have joined me in this practice. Mindfulness is trending amongst schools in our districts and for the right reasons, it helps.

Seek out positivity, practice gratitude.

Positive phone calls home have been one of my favorite traditions in my teaching practice. Every week, I honor the greatness of two of my students by doing a positive phone call home to their families to let them know that their student has had a great week at school. I thank parents for raising such a wonderful human and express my gratitude for having the opportunity to be their teacher. The pride and joy in the voices of parents keeps me grounded in the positive, teaching truly is a special job.

Learn a lesson every day and reflect.

Despite how hard we try, we are human and are bound to make mistakes along the way. It’s important that we don’t hover around these mistakes for too long and instead, apologize if need be, and reflect on the lesson learned. We have to model being lifelong learners for our students. Reflecting on the lessons every day teaches us is the first step. We have to model humility and apologize if we make mistakes in the classroom, and students will respect us more for it.

The better care we take of ourselves, the better way in which we’ll be able to show up for our students every single day. The school year is long in every way, and our students deserve the safety of a teacher that is both present and pleasant. For some of our students, school is a place of safety and predictability, sometimes it is the only space like this during their days. The school year is a long stretch, and we need to prioritize sustainability to make sure we that make it through successfully.

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Daniela Felix

Daniela Felix

Daniela is a first generation college student who is heavily involved in education in her home district, West Contra Costa Unified. After becoming a mother at a young age, Daniela’s passion for education justice only intensified and she began to fight for an equitable education for all children, regardless of background or zip code. Daniela played a key role in organizing parents with the California Charter Schools Association and is a firm believer in school choice for all families. She is currently a Lead Organizer with Students for Education Reform, organizing college students around education justice issues in her home district. She was recently accepted into Teach for America and plans to continue impacting the lives of children in her hometown of Richmond, CA as a high school social studies teacher. Daniela is a UC Berkeley senior pursuing her B.A. in Legal Studies and Education along with her 4 year old daughter and husband. Daniela is a firm believer in that every single child is capable of meeting high expectations if given the correct support. Daniela hopes to be a provider of that support.

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