Thursday, May 16, 2019

Teacher Self-Care

I was honored to give a talk on teacher self-care recently at Delta Kappa Gamma's state convention in San Francisco.

This was my first time speaking on this topic but I promise it will not be my last! It was a small group because it was early in the morning (and let's be honest, part of self-care is sleeping!) but it was such a great group.

I was able to use my story as a cautionary tale (if you don't know it, check out my book, Literally Unbelievable: Stories from an East Oakland Classroom). I burned out, hard, and it was avoidable.

We talked about how none of us have EVER had a professional development on self-care. And how most teachers don't make it five years. How we give absolutely everything to our students, at the expense of our families, our friends, and ourselves.

It turns out that the old cliche about putting your own oxygen mask on first is true. We cannot help anyone if we are not healthy. Yet we're expected to put ourselves last. When I sprained my ankle and taught on crutches, I tried to take an afternoon off for a doctor's appointment. My principal said, "Well, I suppose you can take it off, I mean, if you're not really here for the kids..." for a doctor's appointment. For, incidentally, an injury sustained at school. Every one of us has similar stories. We were expected to teach with strep throat, with the flu, with sick children. We expect it of ourselves and pride ourselves on never being out sick. It's unsustainable.

If we want teachers to stay, and if we want teachers to be good teachers, we need to work on this. It was a wonderful experience, and I hope to do this talk many, many more times.

Teachers and their students deserve it.

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