Teacher, Take Care of Yourself

I have been missing in action for the past few months. My goal has been and is to write a new post at least once a month. I would love to write two, but life does take over at times. Anyway, let me explain my absence and reasoning behind my post.

On Feb. 25 at approximately 5:40 p.m. I was attacked and mauled by a rottweiler while walking in the neighborhood across the street from my home. I suffered multiple serious injuries that required being taken to the emergency room and 16 days later surgery to repair the damage. I spent 42 days confined to my home while I was healing. Finally on April 11th, 47 days later, I was released from the doctor’s care. I have horrible scars and even a full 2 months later deal with problems where one wound is not healing properly. I could go into more detail about the physical healing along with the emotional/mental healing that is taking place, but I want to turn in the direction that teachers need to practice self care regardless of circumstances.

Teachers typically spend I would estimate 15 – 20 hours a week outside of normal work hours, 7:20 – 3:20, grading, planning, and gathering or making materials for class. This time does not include time spent worrying or thinking about that one student that seems unreachable. This time also does not include responding to emails or calls from parents. Now, I was forced to slow down, rest, and concentrate on myself. During the 42 days I was at home I did worry about my students. Were they behaving? Were they learning the material needed to be successful in 4th grade? Was the substitute following my plans (yes, she was wonderful) and the questions continued. Side note, I could not have gotten through those 42 days without my wonderful co-workers keeping my classroom running. Finally, I had to tell myself to let it go, concentrate on my healing.

Teachers, we have to take better care of ourselves. Teaching is an overwhelming profession and that can become all consuming. Let us admit it, trying to meet the academic, emotional and mental needs of children is hard! This does not include the constant changing laws that politicians dream up without consulting with educators and we are forced to confront those in power to have our voice heard, but that is another post for a later day. I digressed. We can not be all we need for our students if we do not take the time to rest and recharge.

I learned while at home that rest is very important and undervalued. I decided to make changes for when I returned and I want to share the three simple changes I made. First, set definite work hours and leave work at work, the majority of time. I normally work until 4:00 or 4:15 p.m. three days a week. I do not bring work home with me any longer. It will still be there when I return the next morning. Secondly, reserve the weekends for yourself and family. I do not check work email on the weekends. I do not do anything work related on Saturdays. I specifically said Saturday because I do reserve roughly 2 to 3 hours on Sundays for preparing for the upcoming week. Let me add, I do not have small children at home any longer and if you do let work go on the weekends completely, if possible. Your children are only little once. Enjoy and soak up every moment. Lastly, disconnect from social media from time to time. Your classroom does not have to look like Pinterest nor does every lesson have to be a song and dance. Social media can become overwhelming for teachers because there are educators that look like they have it all together. As Hope King states so eloquently at Get Your Teach On, the pictures on social media are just a snapshot of a day. If needed hit the unfollow button for a little while.

I am proud to say that since returning to work I have stuck by my changes. Please, if you are like me and have a hard time turning off the teacher brain, make changes for your health. Do not let an emergency, accident, or sickness take place to force you to rest and recharge. Students love a happy, smiling teacher that enjoys teaching because he/she is refreshed, focused, and rested.

Until next time….Dandelion Dreams