This year, at the annual Tri-Association Educator’s Conference, I attended a session on Having Difficult Conversations with Jennifer Abrams. While there were multiple insightful takeaways, something that stuck with me was the importance of teachers taking care of themselves.
— Douglas Frankish (@dougfrankish) September 29, 2018
Unfortunately, I feel like this is something that is often overlooked- and not just by school leaders but by teachers too. Educators in our school are always on the go, ASFM has a reputation for continuously moving forward. While this is exciting, it can also cause stress and fatigue. On top of facilitating instruction, teachers have recess duty, lunch duty, dismissal duty, unit planning and unpacking, assessing, team meetings, alternate team meetings, faculty meetings, MAP testing, exploring new initiatives etc- the list goes on and on. Teachers get stressed and are working on weekends, often giving up self-care for working on school related projects.
ASFM has been and is currently exploring explicit Social Emotional Learning for students. We have had a few professional development sessions on how the pilot group is moving forward and what this is going to look like school wide in the upcoming years. This week, our school leaders determined that it is also important for teachers to consider their own social-emotional care. I know they always care for teacher well being- however this week they did something more intentional. Typically Tuesday afternoons are set aside for professional development- students leave a bit early and teachers stay an extra hour in order for this to happen. During this past Tuesday, ASFM asked teachers to take care of themselves. Therefore, different sessions were offered; yoga, gardening, art, meditation, and ultimate frisbee to name a few. There was also the option of leaving early and participating in your own self-care off site. Teachers were encouraged to tweet about what they were doing using the hashtag #asfmhappiness . It was interesting to read and see the variety of activities people chose to do. And great to see they took it seriously. I feel the gift of time to focus on yourself is something we often forget to give.
Personally, I spent some time in school working- as it meant I would have more free time at home. I then went home, went on a walk with some friends, spent some extra time with my dog, Bruno- and finally had the chance to carve pumpkins I had purchased a few weeks ago. It was the first time I had done that many after school “activities” that were focused on myself and not on work or professional growth in a long time. What I did took longer than the additional hour I was given- however in that first hour- it kickstarted my mindset into thinking, on this day I am going to focus on me. So, thank you ASFM for that time and for reminding me that I am best at my job, when I feel my best.