The New Year is here! We were counting the days, the minutes and the seconds till we said good-bye to an “old” year. For many of us, it was an exhausting period with so many health and school challenges.
In this past year, we have seen teachers quitting their jobs because the toll was too much and the support was next to zero. We have heard amazing people saying they cannot take it anymore because the level of burnout was too intense. We have witnessed educators who were demanded to do it all and then were forbidden to use all the resources available.
It was a tough year for us all! A year that we will not forget easily. What’s next? We cannot predict what’s next and if the year that is so close will bring better things.
What we can do is control how we will react to it and how we will place ourselves in front of the new challenges. Let’s start teaching anew! Let’s start teaching with passion and also let’s start taking better care of ourselves as educators.
1. Fill the empty vessels!
For many of us, our own mental and physical health is placed on the back burner. No wonder we are experiencing such a terrible backlash. We have to fill our own vessels in order to be able to fill our students as well. Stop the guilt and take that mental health day when you need it! Everything will be waiting for you when you get back.
2. Learn to say NO!
Teachers are seen as “Yes, man!” people. It is hard to us to say NO to our students, admins, colleagues or community. However, we need to be aware that it is impossible to do it all and remain sane. Start saying NO to the trivial things, to the activities that do not fill you with joy, to the events that will keep you busy, not productive. At first, it will be a shock! But after a while, you’ll discover that you are happier if you focus on your own priorities, not on other people’s demands.
3. Focus on students’ mental health!
The notions of SEL and mental health are used so often that at a certain point they lose their power and deeper meaning. They become just another thing we have to check off from our long To Do List. Regardless of this, they are more important than ever.
Start the New Year with a Reboot Week in which you dedicate a couple of minutes from each day to your students well-being. You can do activities like breakup letters from the old year, goals setting, power challenges, narrative writing, or self-discovery journeys.
Continue the rest of the year with SEL and character building challenges! Focus on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. Mental health can be ensured when all these targets are hit repeatedly. Make the time to invest in your students and you will see the results.
A new year is in front of us. Let’s make it count!
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