I found that at the end of teaching I felt quite disheveled (looking like Charlie Brown’s friend PigPen) and felt tired, impatient and irritable. Literally out of steam. Not really the best way to finish off a class, let alone prepare for the next class.
How about you? How do you feel at the end of the term?
It was feeling this way at the end of classes that made me believe that despite loving teaching, it didn’t love me back. I eventually realized that teaching wasn’t the problem. Taking care of the teacher was the problem. In racing teaching and meeting student’s needs, I wasn’t taking care to fuel myself.
I know from my own youthful experience that if I don’t feed a car with gas, oil and maintenance, the car breaks down on me. That’s expen$ive! People really aren’t that much different in this respect from cars. We start to fall apart if we don’t fuel ourselves. We are tired, have less enthusiasm and energy for students and teaching.
Personal experience taught me that putting energy back into me (self-care) was essential to keeping me running. While self-care is recognized as a valuable practice for caregivers, it isn’t yet a universally adopted practice for teachers. In the same way that caregivers cannot provide excellent care if they don’t care for themselves, you also cannot teach if you do not care for yourself. To maintain the energy and enthusiasm that you start out with requires commitment to self-care before, during and after teaching. Caring for yourself will refresh you with new ideas and energy for teaching a new set of students.
Now that we are in the summer break is a good time to ask yourself
Did I feel like I finished a race after teaching last time?
If you did, then consider whether you took time to “take care” of the teacher?
Do you have a regular practice of self-care? How do you know when you aren’t getting enough self-care?
If you’re comfortable, share your experiences in learning self-care as a teacher with us.