Educator Self-Care: Beginning, Going and Ending Strong

It’s New Year’s Month for educators all over the country! No doubt many of you began preparing for this new school year before the last one even ended – saying and/or thinking things like “I need to try this next year,” “This would be perfect for my students next year,” “I need to do something different, I’m exhausted!” etc. Out of all the things you may have thought or felt about this upcoming year, anything close to that last one could be the clincher. Educators – we NEED YOU to take care of yourselves first. If you aren’t at your best, you won’t ever be able to give your best to anything or anyone else no matter how much your heart desires it. As you go about preparing for the new school year and do marvelous things with and for your students all year long, allow these 5 Steps to Self-Care for Educators to guide you...

Dear Teachers...

In the wake of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting, at a town hall meeting, one student asked a public official what he was going to do for her to feel safe when she returned to school when the campus was reopened again for classes. She was simply told she would be safe and protected. From a trauma standpoint, the response she received was woefully inadequate. And now, Sante Fe, Texas, where a student remarked she just knew it would eventually happen at her school. Seems it’s easy for students and teachers alike to generalize what has become all too familiar on our school campuses. We want to offer some suggestions for nurturing the necessary rebuilding and strengthening of a personal sense of safety for you and your students in the schools all across our country who may be thinking: “Will we be next? Am I safe on my campus?”

Please Secure YOUR Mask FIRST

The odds of cabin depressurization on an airplane flight are small, we are told by the flight attendant who dutifully instructs fellow passengers in the "just in case" event. Be sure to put on your mask first if you are traveling with small children. Great advice in an emergency. Significant advice in the daily travel as an educator with students in a classroom and under your care.

NOT SO HAPPY HOLIDAYS

It’s that time of year when the hustle and bustle of the impending winter holidays seems to be taking over everything. This, of course, includes our schools…and more specifically the behavior of many of our students! Tips for supporting students through a different type of holiday stress.

THE GIFT

For many, the excitement that comes from getting a gift is almost indescribable. There is great anticipation as we unwrap and open the special package - removing all the excess, to uncover something for which you longed or simply desired. Gifts bring so much joy! So, why would anyone compare receiving feedback to a gift? Getting feedback can be uncomfortable and sometimes it’s simply scary. It causes us to look at a practice or problem that we might rather ignore. Feedback (unless only positive) is typically an unwanted gift. The kind you wish you could re-gift or return! This is especially true when the person providing the feedback may not be the most eloquent or tactful person we know.

YOU are powerful beyond measure!

Recovery and rebuilding from the natural disasters of the last two months will take years and enormous resources, including your energy as a survivor and/or one supporting survivors. At the same time the recent cluster of natural disasters hit at the beginning of the school year for many educators and their students. Anyone who has ever gone to school or taught school knows how stressful the start of school can be on a cloudless, seismically calm day. How much more with the start of school delayed, schools damaged or closed for months to years, transfers to other campuses—all at the same time trying to take care of the losses at home and in your heart! Here are four powerful strategies from trauma informed leadership that can strengthen your resiliency to face and flourish in life with all its challenges -- the challenges in the rearview mirror, the ones you can see through the windshield, and even the ones you have yet to see.

No One is Perfect: Overcoming Teacher Mistakes

Paul Bear Bryant says, when you make a mistake there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it. Studies show that the teacher turnover (or dropout) rate has increased to 20% a year. That means if 100 teachers begin the school year, approximately 20 will decide to quit the profession. What causes this high turnover? I would suggest it is linked to common mistakes and a lack of responsive leadership that prevent the educator from bouncing back. Let’s exam four avoidable teacher mistakes that are manageable with or without strong school leadership.

Responding to the Threat of Trauma from Hurricane Harvey

The actual hurricane is gone and it will take more than months for the entire area to recuperate physically, economically, socially, and personally. The actual problem with trauma is not the event itself. The toxic shock to the body is stored in the body and impacts feelings, emotions, beliefs, attitudes and actions. It is not too soon to begin to deal with the toxic effects of the trauma of Hurricane Harvey before they take deeper roots into our (I personally experienced the storm staying with my daughter and her family) lives.

I'm Not Your Momma!

Let's be honest, many of us as educators have found ourselves thinking or feeling this very thing - I'm not your momma! As it is, we are already overloaded with responsibilities in our classrooms and taking on the role of a parent can make us feel overwhelmed and even frustrated at times. But our students need us to "show up" in many capacities and THRIVING TEACHERS understand and recognize the effects of trauma. What does childhood trauma look like? Do you know it when you see it?

Happy New Year! Gearing Up for the Start of School

Think about this – ours is one of the only professions lucky enough to celebrate a "Happy New Year" twice a year! So, let’s make the most of it. Mixed emotions are normal when preparing for another school year – even for teachers! While some teachers are full of excitement thinking about applying different learning from Summer Professional Development, others are nervous of what to expect from the new year, a new group of kids, and new experiences. So, as a new school year begins, let’s focus on a few things you can control - one day at a time.

The Importance of TRUST

To say that trust is broken across the spectrum of public education is an understatement. From communities, to administrators, teachers, students, and politicians, every move to fund, improve and deliver learning is scrutinized with distrust. Effectiveness in learning dwindles. For that very reason, at Thriving Leaders Collaborative, LLC, PEOPLE ARE OUR PURPOSE!

What THRIVING LEADERS Know About the Brain...

Thriving leaders know the brain can and does change, for the better, and sometimes, worse. Educators especially know what neglect, abuse, and poverty can do to the learning brain at all grade levels. In the weeks ahead, I will dialogue with you about the challenges and strategies for teaching the way the brain learns best, and how to heal, in the classroom, the toxic stress of students who have experienced adverse childhood events.

ELLs: Let's Start at the Very Beginning

Beginning proficient English Language Learners enroll into our schools with a variety of language levels and varying levels of understanding of the content and concepts we need to teach according to the state standards and educational requirements. In addition, they have varying levels of expertise in their own first language. We, as educators, can’t group our beginning English Language Learners into one category.