It’s the dead of winter. It’s either right after or right before Spring break for us. We may be watching teacher strikes across the country or be a part of these strikes ourselves. Our students are tired. We are tired. We are overwhelmed.
Our students are tired. We are tired. We are overwhelmed. Click To Tweet
If you have a friend who is a teacher, they’ve most likely told you numerous stories about their students, shown you amazing assignments they’ve received, vented about their lack of sleep, etc. However, they may never reveal the true extent of their stress; being a teacher (like any profession) is very emotionally and physically taxing. Sometimes, we may feel as if it’s easier to drink a glass of wine and engage with our experiences on our own in fear of overwhelming those around us or feeling misunderstood. These feelings are exacerbated particularly during the winter when the darkness and the harsh cold make our early mornings, and staying late at school, more difficult.
Furthermore, as educators, we are givers. We give so much time, energy, care and support each day and receive little in return (we don’t ask or require this). This means our energy levels are depleted significantly without a lot of time to recoup. We are also notorious for not practicing self-case – it’s hard to find the time and we often make other excuses for why we don’t address our needs, especially our mental health.
While it is not your responsibility to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves, do regular check-ins with your teacher friends. It may make a huge difference for us if you, as a friend or colleague, genuinely ask us how we’re doing. It may give us the opportunity to discuss our experiences and emotions, which we may not have realized we needed to do. It could also be the first step for us to acknowledge that we need to take a breath and be intentional in taking care of ourselves.
More so, having someone to talk to is so comforting. It’s nice to be able to have a listening ear to get things off our chests. So, for these upcoming weeks, engage with your teacher friends and ensure that you really engage – ask questions that are beyond the surface. Go further than “how are you?” and “how are your students” Ask us things like “How are your energy levels doing lately?” and “have you been taking care of yourself?” In addition, if you have the means, it would be meaningful to ask to hang out with us or simply be in our presence. Having a friend physically around can help us destress and disengage from everything that we’re going through. So, go out OR go to your teacher friends’ houses (if they want to socialize), and plan a nice night indoors with them: watch a movie, chill with them, listen to music, etc.
While the entire school year can be difficult for us, this particular time of year can be extremely hard mentally and emotionally. It can feel like it’s impossible. So, if possible, reach out to us. Call us. Text us. Facetime us. Hang out with us. Be a support for us if you are emotionally able to.
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