The Conscious Classroom

Self Care for Teachers - Essential In These Times

March 16, 2021 Episode 34
The Conscious Classroom
Self Care for Teachers - Essential In These Times
Show Notes Transcript

Highlighted in this podcast are the real concerns teachers are facing right now, named, so that you can externalize them and then create space and care for your own wellbeing. We work on three primary steps for stress reduction and self care.  For more on free Self Care MasterClass for Educators visit

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Welcome to the conscious classroom podcast, where we're exploring tools and perspectives that support educators and anyone who works with teams to create more conscious, supportive, and enriching learning. I'm your host Amy Edelstein, and I'll be sharing transformative insights and easy to implement classroom supports that are all drawn from mindful awareness and systems thinking the themes we'll discuss are designed to improve your own joy and fulfillment in your work and increase your impact on the world we share.

Let's get on with this next episode.

Hello, and welcome to this episode of the conscious classroom self care for teachers. My name is Amy Edelstein, and I'm here to talk with you today about the real need for self care for wellness for putting time into your own wellbeing, your own. Ease your own ability to dial back the stress. This has really been a year like none other and coming into March, we're looking at what's fall.

Gonna be like, budgets are coming out. Schools are reorganizing, recalibrating, figuring out what the. And additional programming is gonna look like next year. And now is the time to build in, into the schedule and into the budget time and dollars for teacher self care. It really is not optional. Your wellbeing, your stress reduction.

Can't wait, maintaining an even level. Of re restorative practice, restorative support building into the Workday times for, the alleviation of frustration. We have to open up the valve. We gotta let some steam out. And that doesn't mean letting steam out by emoting or.  being frustrated or venting or having a meltdown, letting steam out can look like walking outside for a few deep breaths of fresh air.

Feeling your weight on a chair and allowing your muscles to soften after an event that was upsetting.

Attitudes are gonna be so important in the fall because we all know that our students are gonna be experiencing the challenges of going back to school. Many students, like the ones in my district will have been in virtual lessons from March, 2020 to September, 2021. That is a very long time for a young person to be without support and structure.

We all know that students thrive with, with support and structure. How are we gonna bring them back? How are we gonna socialize them? How are we gonna remove their extra anxiety and fear their fear of having forgotten, how to do things, their fear of entering a new school or a new knit grade and not knowing anyone.

Those are all gonna be emotional currents that we're gonna navigate, including our own. We don't expect coronavirus to have disappeared by September. Hopefully, the majority of us will be vaccinated and the infection  and the infection rate will have died down, but it's worrisome. We don't know. I talked to a counselor, just yesterday who was concerned about her students.

And she said, look, it's not just my students. It's me. When I started thinking about going back in person and I haven't been vaccinated yet, I just lost it. I went to the nurse and I just lost.  and she was telling me with, you know, some level of embarrassment she said, but I needed someone to just listen. I couldn't hold it anymore.

That's why self care is essential. Before we get to that point, before we lose it,

I had. Another counselor who told me she had a six year old in her office. That was also this week. And the six year old was having his own meltdown. His meltdown looked like anger and he was shouting. And he was saying, I don't remember how to do anything. I don't remember how to do anything. I'm gonna kill myself.

Now, those words should never come out of. Six year old's mouth. And they did. And my counselor friend said that she knew this, you this young child quite well. And of course she took it very seriously, but she said he just was having a meltdown. She wasn't worried about him overall. Yes. Comes from a supportive.

Family, but the stress of coming back into school in person and feeling humiliated, cuz he had forgotten things. He wasn't where he wanted to be was just more than his little brain and little emotions could handle. We need to be able to calm these students down. We need to be able to bring our breathing techniques into the classroom.

We need to have our own. Self care and restore restorative practices going all the time

at a PD I taught last week, I walked in on the end of a staff meeting and the school was grieving. They had lost a 15 year old to death by gun violence and the 18 year old who was under investigation. Had been a star student of some of those teachers at another school. No one knows what happened. No one knows what got to that point.

And now two schools were grieving and nobody really understood why we are living in times where self care stress reduction. Rejuvenation is not an option.

I hear stories like this. And one last, vignette that stuck with me. This, these are all just literally in the last seven days in one middle school, the eighth grade level, there are 115 students, 25 of them have not handed. A single piece of work since school began in September it's, March 25, eighth graders out of 115 are radically disengaged.

How are we gonna motivate them? How are we gonna bring them back? How are we gonna inspire them once again? How are we gonna give them confidence in themselves that they can do it, that it's worth doing it? That they won't be left behind that there is a reason to learn and to study this year has just been tough in so many ways in so, so many ways if you're listening to this and it's still, and there's still time, please join me next week.

I'm running a week long free. Self care for educators program. We're gonna de-stress. It's called rapid revitalization a five day self-care masterclass for educators. Find out more about And please, if you can join me it, this is really designed for these situations.

We all need to put on our oxygen mask first.  and that's not just in airplanes, it's definitely in the school room. So how do you go about rejuvenating when you're stressed and tired and sad and, and burnt out yourself? We, we wanna keep the bar reasonable and yet we. Expect great results. It's it sounds unrealistic, but it actually does work because when we allow ourselves to think positively and think about what's possible and allow for, what's called an evolutionary theory, punctuated evolution, punctuated development.

That's when things don't go in a linear. Scale, but they take great leaps and we've seen that in species development and we see that in our own, resilience and rejuvenation.

So the key, the foundational key is to become aware. It's called mindfulness for a reason, because it has to do with noticing, being aware, being observant, being present. So when we're mindfully aware, we're not trying to escape our problems. We're not trying to solve our problems. So we're not running away from and avoiding or pushing away.

And we're not leaning in. And trying to Unie the knots or get the grease out. So we're not escaping, we're not solving, we're simply attending to we're being present for we're being aware. So when you start noticing that lump in your throat, when you start noticing that catch as you're teaching. Your voice quivering with exhaustion, that fatigue, that's not really physical, but it manifests physically cuz we're draining our body of resources.

Our stress hormones are on the rise. Or when we can't think clearly about the next thing we wanna do, cuz everything seems a little foggy because our reasoning is moving a little slow, feels like we're underwater. Those are the times to take a breath, to be aware and begin by locating the sensations in your body.

Locating that which will make you feel solid your feet on the floor, your hand on the desk, your weight on the chair, allow yourself to be present for what's happening in your body. You may notice your stomach is clenched. You feel like you can hardly breathe.  or you've stopped digesting notice without pressure and without C agitating.

And just surround that area of your body with gentleness, allow that tension to be just like you would, you would take, you know, a crying infant into your arms. You would be so gentle when that infant wakes up and is hungry or cold, or doesn't know what's happening. And you very gently scoop that infant up and you swaddle them and you walk very gently rocking them.

Very gently cooling at them. The attitude is of bringing them close without startling them without pressure, without tension. So when you are attentive and you're noticing those stressors in your body, just in your mind's eye, take, take yourself in your own arms, you know, surround that tension in your stomach with gentleness, with warmth, with safety, allow it to be and invite those muscles to relax.

Just a. You can take a deeper breath and send the breath to that part of your body that feels tense. Maybe you feel it in your hands. Maybe you found your hands clenching. Maybe you feel it in your jaw or in your face or your throat tightens, wherever you notice that stress exhaustion, that stress fatigue be attentive.

Be aware. The scale of it, how intense is it? And then in your minds, I hold yourself as you would hold an infant,

be gentle, allow yourself to experience what's you're already experiencing.  so you're feeling it. It's in your emotional self. It's in your memory. It's in your current thoughts, it's in your body. So no need to fight with it or make it go away. Maybe it's fear. Maybe it's grief. Maybe it's loss. Maybe it's a worry.

Maybe it's anger. Maybe it's desperation. Maybe it's just pent up frustration.  at the sense of that this degree of pressure that you're under is not necessary. And yet you experience it day in and day out if only the world worked as it could, you wouldn't have to be experiencing that degree of pain, but you.

so can you soften around that without frightening yourself without going too close without moving towards the pain without moving away from the pain without enlarging it without rejecting it without forcing it to be different. Practicing a radical allowing yourself to be experiencing what you are while not allowing yourself to drown in the experience.

So when you start noticing, being mindful, breathing into those parts of your body that are feeling tense and softening gently around. You're accepting the emotion that you're carrying without diving into it. The trick is to allow yourself to be without overwhelming yourself.

So you're caring in the way you would for an infant.  you're caring for that delicate emotional self. And when we turn our minds with this careful attentiveness and radical acceptance in deep compassion and profound listening, where we're listening to all of the cues around us, our bodies. Our emotional system and our brains allow themselves to relax just a little bit.

And when they can soften just a little bit, it will change the, what's happening, neurologically what's happening in terms of, the chem chemical secretions in our body. And what's happening in terms of our sense of. And resilience and our own ability to restore.

Now, once you've started experiencing that, even just a tiny bit of that widen

the lens wish  wish everyone in your own circles. When we enlarge and extend our care, we create more room for whatever we're holding ourselves and we access our strength. We access our own strength. So that, that sense of being able to wish others well, even if we're still feeling, exhausted,  and depleted and emotional, but we include ourselves and wish those around us.

Those in our circles, those we care about. And if you can keep enlarging, may all of us be free from tension and grief and fear and suffering and pain. May all of us feel. Care and gentleness and wellbeing and love and grace and compassion.

May all of us feel that there are others who care about us, who are strong for us and who hold us in their.

May all of us feel that we are not alone.

May all of us feel, goodness, may all of us feel comfort. May all of us feel joy?

May all of us feel. Release and relief

practice that during the day, allow  allow your own self care to be a deeply embedded part of your.

Allow yourself to build the habit of positive reinforcement and allow yourself to build that foundational step of attentiveness awareness and attending to ourselves.

So let's try it now, wherever you are, make sure you have, you have five or 10 minutes

put down, whatever you're, whatever else you're doing. If you're driving, you can save this for later. Take a deep breath.  and exhale it out.

Take another deep breath in and exhale it out.

Take another deep breath and exhale it out.

And if you were holding your breath, You may have noticed that the exhales were a little hard. They were a little shallow that's okay. Notice the quality of your exhalations, allowing yourself that little bit of letting go and you're letting go in order to make space for your next. For that nourishing oxygen that your brain needs so badly.

It, the brain drinks in 20% of the oxygen that we take in.

So on the next few breaths pay attention to your exhale. The inhale will come naturally pay attention to the exhalation.

And just notice be attentive to your body without diving in without intrusion, without invading your own.

Give yourself the space you need, but start being aware of your physicality of your presence.

Feel your hands touching each other. If they're cold, hold your hands together to warm.

Feel your feet on the floor

feel where you're touching the chair.

Allow your body to come to rest

and as you're attentive,

be accepting.

Be accepting of the parts of the body that feel tight. If your stomach feels clenched or your breath feels shallow,

notice be with, be caring,

be present.

This is not a moment to solve or resolve. This is the moment for radical acceptance of yourself

for an embrace and for compassion.

So, however you're feeling however nervous or frightened or hurt or angry or tired or sad,

hold yourself in your mind's. Or you can cross your arms or rest your left hand on your right shoulder and your right hand on your left shoulder,

whatever posture feels safe and caring and be attentive and present. And accepting of the reality of all that you're experiencing

making space for it all.

And as you make space,  you can use your breath to breathe into whole parts of your body, inviting those parts of your body to take in oxygen, to soften and release the toxins, the stress hormones, so that your bloodstream can carry them.

so that whatever emotion you're holding

is processing

itself. And as you breathe in, then allowing yourself to invite healing and ReSTOR.

To invite strength

and invite.

Keep allowing yourself

to surround yourself.



And when you feel like a little bit of space, a little bit of care and a little bit of calm

let's immediately amplify that and strengthen ourselves

by sending wish for the wellbeing. Of all those in our circle, all those we care about,

wishing them release from pain and suffering, wishing them happiness and ease. Wishing them a good night's sleep. Wishing them restoration on a cellular level, wishing them comfort on a heart level,

wishing them clarity and wisdom on a mind level.  wishing them companionship and comfort and counsel. On an emotional level,

sending those wishes out, feeling the strength

that you now have access to

and feeling how as you send those wishes, you are filling your own.

Healing releasing

comforting and

growing. So you can finish with these last few. Breaths allowing yourself

to refocus on the objects in the room, around you and begin to gently move your fingers and toes stretching in any way you may might need to and preparing to move on.  to the next thing that you were intending to do and can carry this with you care for your own wellbeing care for your own human strength and fragility.

We are delicate creatures and we are strong creatures.

Humans are fascinating in that way. So I'm holding you all in my thoughts in my heart, wishing you all well, wishing your students well, wishing the rest of your staff and colleagues. Well, and I will talk with you again in two weeks. If you can join my rapid revitalization five day self care masterclass for educator.

More Thank you for listening to the conscious classroom. I'm your host, Amy Edelstein. Please check out the show notes on inner strength, for links and more information. And if you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with a friend and pass the love.

See you next time.