Looking through my Facebook feed, my teacher friends talk about longer hours. Some post it as a badge of honor, discussing how they worked from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or later. Others post to fight against the false notion they must be on vacation. If anything, the hours you work now are crazier than ever before.
High school teachers may suffer some of the worst hours, as now high school kids find themselves required to take on new responsibilities. Whether they baby sit younger siblings and ensure their work gets done first or work in order to help provide for a household in need, their availability changes. Thus, late hours for high school teachers seems to be the norm.
However, while all the cute Pinterest and Instagram posts celebrate your sacrifice for working long late hours, I want to tell you something different. You too can suffer from stress. Teachers can be overworked. You more than anyone else, needs to end your day at the close of school. Other parents and non-educators will be appalled. Let them. If someone dares to criticize you for needing a day to recuperate, ignore those critics.
Now more than ever, students need you, but not at the expense of your mental health. Working longer hours, following ever changing admin directives, taking care of your home life, and dealing with a pandemic – self care is not a luxury at this point. Self care will ultimately impact your professional and personal success.
Self Care Lately Has Been Touted As One More Thing For Teachers To Do In a Broken Educational System. That Doesn’t Mean You Get To Neglect Yourself, Simply Because You Work In a Broken System. You Fight Against The Broken System, Because Your Voice Must Be Heard.
If the temptation to roll your eyes at the buzz words, “self care” incurs, understand its true intent. Sometimes, self care, means resting, working on personal neglected tasks, or taking a few minutes to be alone with God in prayer. Self care can be spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, intellectual, social, relational, safety and security.
When putting everyone else first, it may be difficult to reserve time for yourself. Guilt, the belief of a lack of time, critics outside of education, all of it may nag at you. Ignore it and tend to your needs, anyways. Maybe start with one day where you no longer work late. Or start a self care routine in manageable increments, such as 5 to 15 minutes dedicated to one aspect of self care.
By putting yourself first, you’ll be able to better take care of others and those you most want to serve. You may have to one day stay late to help that one high school student. You may be working harder than ever before. All of this points to how essential taking care of yourself is, when considering all the facets of this pandemic.
So, I leave you with this. Celebrate the teachers that make it a point to prioritize themselves. The ones that eloquently defend teachers, while focusing on their health needs. Teachers inspire not by working themselves ragged, but because this career is one meant to be at the service of others.
Nowhere did it say good teachers must sacrifice their time, space, and well being in order to be successful and manage a pandemic of all things.
And the fact that so many believe that, is something all educators must challenge.
You deserve to rest.
So don’t let anyone tell you differently.