Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with and around amazing educators, administrators, groundskeepers, bus drivers and many other individuals who all have one thing in common, they work in the education system with Arizona’s children. I am in awe of the commitment that each one of these individuals carries with them as they walk through the doors of the school, and at the same time I am deeply saddened to watch many of them leave for the day looking tired, haggard and struggling to come back the next day.
When coaching exceptional needs teachers during one of my recent educational positions, I would hear educators begin the year with a renewed sense of passion, commitment and hope, but sometime into the school year, that voice would change for some of them to deep sadness, frustration and anxiety as they struggled to provide the best for students. While we are all a team working for the same goal, it seemed at some point ‘we’ became ‘me,’ ‘Team’ became ‘I,’ and it was ‘they’ versus ‘administration.’ From years of working in public education I have wondered, pondered and analyzed why do some educators make it and others retire as soon as they certify? Why do some never seem to give up hope and others’ hope turns sour in their mouths?
Part of it seems to be about self-care. Taking care of you is not selfish. It is necessary in this type of position. You give and give and give. Educators are up early, on all day, answering questions, skillfully crafting the art of teaching, all while balancing the demands of the district with the varying needs of students and parents. It all can’t be done unless first and foremost you take care of you!
As you can imagine being an administrator of a school for students with emotional disabilities, my days are met with a variety of needs. Staff, students, parents, district level initiatives all demand my attention at any given time.
So, what do I do to stay balanced?
- I read a lot and I read a variety of books. I also have a fun book within reach so when I’m sitting somewhere and waiting for a meeting or something to start I can read a few pages of something that has nothing to do with my career world. But I also read a ton of educational books.
- Schedule time with friends. If it’s not on the calendar it doesn’t happen. So I put it on the calendar ahead of time and schedule other things around it.
- Do something fun with family. When I need a break from the work life, I do fun things with the people closest to me. And I don’t do work!
- Drink a cup of coffee for 15 minutes without looking at my phone, email or technology. Taking this mini step back can be enough to regain my footing.
- I take opportunities to laugh with students, staff, and others in my life. It wasn’t always like this, but as I have found more and more times where I’m laughing, the good times seem to outweigh the rough.
- Morning meeting. Every morning I have a morning huddle with the team. We take one minute to breathe. We take a few minutes to check in with the people at our table or close by. Then we move onto growth or positive moments that happened from the day before and then give any announcements that may impact staff.
If none of these things interest you, that’s okay. Just find something that helps you to keep balanced and to help take care of you.