Self-Care for Educators

The month of August I’ll be gone on a backpacking trip with my brother. We’ll be thru-hiking Vermont’s Long Trail. If you want to follow along on that adventure you can head over to Brothers Welch, the blog we share.

I wanted to write a little reminder to the educators reading this to take time over the last month of summer to do what you love!

There are a lot of blogs out there about self-care: the benefits, whether or not it’s just re-branded self-indulgence, the science behind it, and on and on and on. So I won’t get too deep into self-care as broad topic.

Instead, I’ll speak from personal experience. I know anytime I had a rough day as a teaching assistant, or even now if I have a workshop that goes awry, heading out into the park by my apartment and taking a walk to clear my head really helps me out. It allows me to calm down, process, put things in perspective, and go about the rest of my evening. Hiking is a kind of care for me.

The work of anyone in a school or with youth is intense, you’re impacting the life of another person. Ideally that impact is positive, but even so it’s still a heavy responsibility to carry. On top of that, there’s administrative issues to deal with, the expectation of being a liaison to parents and the student’s community, and (depending on what and where you teach) the pressure of hitting certain metrics and scores.

With all these combined duties, you need an outlet or else you’ll burnout. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. There will be teachers, librarians, youth coordinators, who I thought were excellent, but have all of a sudden left the field entirely. These careers require you to give and give and give to others, so make sure you give to yourself every now again too.

Now, self-care won’t solve all the intrinsic problems of US education or even the problems within your own institutions, but I firmly believe it can help you be a better, more emphatic educator when the 2019-2020 school year starts up. What’s more, it’ll help you be rested and energized, ready to fight the battles necessary to create a change.

I know summertime can mean a lot of prep, especially at the tail end, but make sure among the classroom prep (and potentially/probably second job) to save some time to just do you!

Forest with three tall white birch trees in the front of other green foliage. In the foreground of the picture are stones arranged into a rough staircase.

Forest with three tall white birch trees in the front of other green foliage. In the foreground of the picture are stones arranged into a rough staircase.