Finding Time for Self-Care During the School Day

Finding Time for Self-Care During the School Day

Research doesn’t have to tell us the effect teachers’ mental and emotional health has on the classroom community (though it does). As we all know from experience, it impacts not only ourselves and our successes at school but our students’ experiences and school successes as well.

Responsive Classroom’s second guiding principle reminds us that “How we teach is as important as what we teach.” This applies to designing lessons that are active, interactive, appropriately challenging, and related to students’ interests. Just as importantly, it applies to the ways in which we facilitate learning and community building and requires having a focused yet flexible demeanor all day long.

Teaching in ways that espouse this principle can take a great deal of energy. In order to be at our best for students, we need to replenish our own reserves throughout the school day. But prioritizing our self-care can feel challenging to do at school, especially when we are feeling particularly busy, under new or different pressures, extra tired, or overwhelmed.

Teacher self-care optionsKnowing this, I reached out to our Certified Responsive Classroom Educator community to ask how they embed daily self-care into their lives. Here were their top five strategies:

  1. Connect with a special colleague.
    “Taking time to connect with colleagues and teammates in a meaningful way lifts my spirit.” –Jacqueline M.
  2. Go for a walk or get some exercise in.
    “Moving, even when I’m tired, gets me more focused and productive.” –Carolyn R.
  3. Meditate or do breathing exercises.
    “I take a few quiet minutes to breathe and not be in charge of anything else. This recharges me.” –Kirsten H.
  4. Take alone time.
    “I eat lunch by myself every day. I revel in the quiet.” –Lisa S.
  5. Practice a personal hobby.
    “I love cooking and planning meals. I write out menus, research recipes, make shopping lists, and even draw pictures of what the food will look like on the plate or table.” –Vincent L.


Science has found that the more we take care of ourselves, the better we are able to care for others. What commitment will you make to ensure your self-care habits are rooted firmly at school? And, if that feels like too much, you might start by asking yourself a simple question each morning on your way to work: What is one thing I will do today to take care of me?



Written by Lindsey Lynch, Responsive Classroom Consulting Teacher, and Educational Consultant and Coach
Tags: Building Classroom Community, Empathy