October 26, 2021

Mercedes Schneider: Teacher Self Care Hinges Upon a Single Word

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Mercedes Schneider points out that the key to teacher self-care is mastering one simple word. Reposted with permission.

My Dear Teaching Colleagues:

This school year, I have noticed that the term, “self care,” has been floating in the air, as if the mere popularizing of the term is enough to solve the problem of teacher burnout in a pandemic, when profound shortage of what is necessary for competent professionalism looms.

If you listen long enough, you might notice that the very folks seemingly advocating self care are also asking too much of you, over and over again. It is not that they are malicious; it is just that the nature of pervasive shortage yields a scramble to keep the day running, and this scramble sets people at cross purposes. They may not mean to, but in reality, they are asking you to set yourself up for your own burnout.

You must not let it happen. Help alleviate the pressure put on your colleagues and school where you are able, but do not play the role of nice, compliant, silent sufferer, foregoing all of the margin in your life necessary for balance and well being, or you, too, will become complicit in snowballing the problem when you yourself crash.

Self care first involves identifying healthy boundaries and then setting them by saying no–a polite “no,” but no, nonetheless.

Even if you feel guilty, say no.

Even if you hate to disappoint, say no.

Even if you feel shy or intimidated, if you know that saying yes is going to take you out in the long run, say no.

That is self care.

Self care does not happen passively. It requires assertion.

My best to you all.

Take care of yourselves.

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