Self-Care Doesn’t Have to Wait Until After School!

Self-Care Strategies for Teachers

The past year has added so many additional stressors on educators: virtual teaching, juggling teaching formats, and wearing masks, to name a few. Teachers must find ways to manage stress to avoid emotional and physical exhaustion. Book clubs, fitness classes, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep all help teachers recharge outside of the school day. But what can teachers do to promote self-care during the school day?

 

Self-Care Strategies for Teachers

Even during the busiest of school days, teachers need time to recharge physical, emotionally, and socially. Consider options that are quick, flexible, and fun.

  • Physically Recalibrate your energy levels with one of these activities: 
    • Go for brisk walk around your classroom, in the hallway, or around the building outside.  
    • Do a HIIT workout from an app if you have the space.
    • Complete some stretching/yoga poses.
    • Engage in anything else that will increase oxygen levels and blood circulation.  
  • Emotionally- Support your senses in your learning space with some of the following:
    • Play classical music while working alone (or when students are working independently) to calm your mind.
    • Use essential oils or air fresheners to freshen up your classroom.
    • Plan a snack/drink break that will boost your spirits! A hot cup of tea or coffee can be the perfect rejuvenator during a long day of teaching.
  • Socially- Connect with colleagues, or carve out time for yourself, with one of these strategies:
    • Participate in goodie days by having teams take turns bringing in treats and snacks to share at a staff gatherings. 
    • Plan a time for a team lunch. Order from a local restaurant, or pack lunches and spend the time talking about life outside of school.
    • Create alone time. Teaching is a challenging endeavor. Give yourself permission to unplug (turn off email!) and unwind, even if for a brief moment. Just thirty seconds of deep breathing can help recalibrate our senses.  

 

Self-Care Strategies to Use with Students

Self-care strategies are needed for students’ well-being too. Self-care procedures should be scheduled throughout the school day to benefit all members of the community.  

Here are some simple ways to promote self-care for you and your students at the same time:

  • Energizers Use short, playful activities to keep energy levels high before, during, and after a lesson.  Consider activities that:
    • Are lively or calming (depending on the needs of the group)
    • Allow interaction
    • Incorporate movement
  • Calming Strategies- Teach students techniques to manage stress.  Some examples:
    • Deep Breathing Exercises
    • Chair Push-ups
    • Mindfulness Practices
    • Yoga Stretches
  • Quiet Time- Plan a 5-10 minute period where students can choose an independent, quiet activity such as:
    • Reading
    • Drawing
    • Solving Puzzles 

Self-care is as important now as ever.  Make time – put it on your calendar, set a timer, and hold yourself accountable – to support your emotional and physical well-being.

What is something you can do to benefit you and your students?  Share examples and ideas in the comment section below.

Additional Resources

 

Written by Andy Moral

Tags: self-care

4 Replies to “Self-Care Doesn’t Have to Wait Until After School!”

  • Hello, my name is Alaina Nebel and through my reading of the following article, I learned various strategies and insight into what self-care can look like for teachers and students alike while we are in the classroom. I believe that this type of awareness of the importance of self-care is vital to our ever-changing world, and the framework of self-care does not have to go unnoticed until we are sitting comfortably in our own homes after the school day is complete. It is important for us to recharge as the article had stated, or else we would not have the energy to give our all to our students through every twist and turn that the day brings us. It is through a recent framework of educator mindsets and consequences that I learned that the focus that we have in and around the classroom is important for our own safe-space to learn with our students, as well as the students’ engagement in the content each day. This framework pointed out the various energizers(cultural language, academic performance, etc.), strategies, and time that should be taken into consideration when instructing our students, similarly to this article in the vast ways staff and students can focus on self-care( R. Filback and A. Green 2011). By learning about the different ways I can play through my students’ energy, use active calming strategies, and utilize time for quiet moments, my hope is to bring self-care routines into the classroom for my own mental health as well as my students.

  • Hello! My name is Anna Miller. This article provided me with many new tips and strategies that could improve my current self-care as a teacher, and will also allow me to share these new ideas with others. I think the importance of self-care is more prevalent now than ever with our current state of the world and education. I found the tips helpful for how we can incorporate self-care into our actual school day. Sometimes resources can be vague, but this resource provided real-life scenarios that I could see myself trying tomorrow for myself, and with my students. The social category was particularly interesting because I can connect to the feelings of loneliness throughout the day. Being the only virtual teacher for my grade level, I think trying the tip of scheduling a team lunch would be helpful for me to connect with teammates and colleagues, in both a professional and personal way. I think this would absolutely help with my engagement during the day as well. Teacher engagement, and my overall educator mindset, plays a big part in how my students approach our school day. Putting the importance of my educator mindset and self-care at the forefront of my mind will ultimately lead to the same emphasis for students (R. Filback & A. Green 2011). I would also like to try some of these strategies for students including a quiet time that happens daily and is consistent for them. This practice is something I’ve done the past few years but somehow in the midst of virtual learning this year, this practice was lost. Quiet time can be beneficial for student’s engagement and stamina, and can also provide a sense of calmness to their ever changing lives. I look forward to trying these strategies starting tomorrow with myself and with students to engage in the self-care that we all need right now!

  • Hello, my name is Katlyn Ash and reflecting on my reading of this article, I not only learned about the variety of different strategies one can facilitate for theirselves or students in the classroom, but I also noticed a few self-care strategies that I have been unknowingly implementing. It was interesting to see how the author categorized self-care as I never had given much thought to the different varieties one can consider self-care. I believe that because educators are encouraged to focus so much energy on others and so little on themselves, self-care is absolutely crucial for teachers to maintain good mental health. As the article mentions, we as educators need to take that time to recharge and also give that same opportunity for our students. This is a necessary step, otherwise we would not have the energy to give our students the best education that they deserve from us, and when they don’t utilize self care, they don’t retain as much information. I believe the framework of self care can make an immense impact on a school’s culture and the classroom climate. We as educators have to build a safe space not only for our students but ourselves as well. Often taking just a few minutes for sharing and offering mutual support can make all the difference. When teachers come together and connect, it builds a sense of group cohesiveness. In fact, research from authors such as Alfie Kohn, Terrence Deal, and Kent Peterson show that a sense of belonging and trust serves as a protective factor in decreasing overall stress, thereby creating a more positive climate. By utilizing more of the strategies mentioned in this article, I can create self-care routines that work best for all, whether it be utilizing calming corner strategies, quick energizers, or mindfulness quiet moments of one’s choosing. Being a year into the pandemic, I have learned more about the importance of self-care and how it can affect one’s performance and climate of their classroom. My hopes are to keep utilizing my current self-care routines in addition to implementing some more variety into mine and my students’ day to stay refreshed and present.

  • Hi, my name is Dana Copeland. After reading this article I had many ideas on how to take care of myself, and my students throughout the day. It was encouraging to know there are ways to practice self-care during the school day. Most of the time if I wait until the close of the school day, self-care gets “put on the back burner” and never accomplished. I also intend to incorporate some of the strategies for students to self-care throughout the school day so they also will be energized and able to perform at their best.

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