Self-Care for Educators

By Krista Nelson, Cohort 7 Mentor, Principal at Center Grove Elementary School

The last seven months have taught us all how to be more flexible and give grace to others. Many of us are back in the school-building full-time with our staff and students. Some of our colleagues are juggling eLearning and hybrid models. These changes have led to adapting to new schedules and navigating changes in our teaching and learning practices. At the same time, you are trying to keep up with the needs at school, home, and maintain a social calendar.

Research shows that 93 percent of teachers report “high levels of job-related stress” (Riley-Missouri, 2018). Only 7 percent of educators do not feel stressed, which is very concerning. When you look at specific building level administrator data, nearly 18% (21% in high poverty schools) of principals leave their position from the year before (Bradley, Levin, Scott, 2019). Educators’ plates are full, and they are also experiencing secondary trauma due to students entering the school buildings with significant needs

If you are like me, there are days that I feel overwhelmed as a building administrator. School administrators are essential for providing support and substantial educational opportunities for students and staff. We do this by motivating school staff and maintaining a positive school climate. If we feel overwhelmed and not regulated, then this will directly impact our school community. We all have plates that are overflowing, but our passion for students receiving the highest level instruction and services keeps our minds and bodies going. It is a juggling act, and we are all doing the best we can. It is understandable if you do feel overwhelmed. We live in a time of uncertainty, and I am sure many of us would never have imagined that we would be living with the social distancing in schools a year ago.

One of my favorite memes going around says, “Can we all agree that five years ago that none of us got this question right, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” We are living in the season of sacrifice. We are pouring ourselves into our staff and students to ensure they have a triumphant return, procedures are in place, academic recovery occurs, and our team is staying regulated. We are also feeling productivity guilt, as we may not think that we are productive enough. This is a reminder that you need to take care of yourself, and practicing self-care is essential to your well-being and those around you. You are doing enough!

Self-care is an essential part of our day with the staff. Dr. John Hattie’s work tells us that the most critical factor for student learning is the classroom teacher. If staff feel excited and engaged at school, then our students will feed off that energy. Our team worked together to come up with our needs this year for self-care. The main wish was to find time to practice self-care that would be sustainable throughout the year. Often, we start a staff initiative and then let up because of the lack of time, and other endeavors are thrown our way. We also wished to establish accountability partners to cheer each other on throughout the school year. We found a perfect fit for a self-care journey through Dr. Tina Boogren’s book, 180 Days of Self-Care for Busy Educators.

Dr. Boogren’s work breaks down each week of the school year into self-care models. There are overall themes, invitations, and self-care activities that are based on current self-care research. The weekly themes allow us to focus on self-care at a time that works best for us. We also have time to collaborate and hold each other accountable throughout the school year, and many light-hearted conversations have come out of our weekly self-care practices. We would love you to join us on our self-care journey or share it with your school team. Below is our Google Drive with weekly presentations and videos that are sent to staff members. Please reach out if you would like more information about our weekly self-care practices.

180 Days of Self-Care for Educators