When stressed, many people clean. They say that they simply cannot “think” when their classroom, kitchen, bedroom etc. is a mess. It’s no mystery why – a cluttered physical environment equals a cluttered mind. Wholehearted teachers take care to cultivate a peaceful environment both at home and at school so that they can feel more peaceful during their busy week. At this point, you are probably thinking “Sure, Alison. Sounds great. but HOW?! I mean, it’s not like I TRY to live in clutter – it just finds ME!” I get it. Let’s tackle this.
I admit that I am an unabashed lover of all things sweet!! Oh – and salty! Oh – and carby!! (sigh) The truth is – my love affair with unhealthy food makes me struggle with the other elements of a wholehearted life. When things are unbalanced, when I’m not taking time for myself, when my environment is cluttered or I feel isolated, sometimes I turn to food. And the teacher’s lounge is the biggest pitfall, right?! I know I’m not alone here… [Read more…]
As a science/STEM teacher by day, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about sustainability. Sustainability is often talked about with regard to the environment and natural resources. Sustainability of natural resources means we don’t consume more than can be regenerated – we use practices and products that are capable of being maintained and sustained.
The word sustainability, as defined by Merriam-Webster, means “1. Capable of being sustained. 2 a: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged”.
So I ask you: If you continue with your schedule like it is today – are you capable of being sustained? Were your personal resources (physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, etc.) used in ways that won’t lead to permanent depletion or damage?
Cultivating self-care as a teacher is similar to cultivating other sustainable practices – it takes choice, intention, and commitment. And it yields fruitful results. [Read more…]
We are starting this series on habits of wholehearted teachers with a biggie – cultivating work-life balance as a teacher. This topic ranges in teachers mind from as illusive as a unicorn to as offensive as a curse word. Seriously! I know teachers who have such guilt over creating work-life balance you’d think they were committing a crime! Others want it, but think it’s impossible – like a fantasy.
But trust me – it’s not impossible, and it doesn’t mean you are a bad (or half-hearted) teacher. On the contrary – it makes you MORE wholehearted when you can maintain balance in your life free from guilt! [Read more…]
Teacher gossip and judgement are rampant in some schools. I know because as I coach teachers from across the country, I hear these statements over and over :
- People will judge me for (fill in the blank) – leaving early, setting boundaries…
- I don’t want people to think I’m a (fill in the blank) – slacker, suck-up, pushover…
- I want people to see me as (fill in the blank) – an asset, superwoman or superman…
- I want people to like me
- I hate upsetting people
- I don’t want to make waves or cause a fuss
- I hate letting people down
What do these all have in common? They are other-oriented – focused on how others view you or what others think about you.
Other-orientation (focusing on others’ thoughts and feelings) makes you compassionate, empathetic, and caring. However, other-orientation can also be toxic. When these are the types of thoughts that control the decisions you make about your time, activities, priorities or attitudes, then who is in control of your life? That’s right…others. Ouch.
As I write this, I’m on a plane – another work trip away from home. But in these moments of reflection, I’m always gifted with a solid gold nugget of truth. Maybe it’s because I’m not pulled in a million directions by a two-year-old or the fact I’m not literally praying that my child won’t be the one screaming the entire flight. Today’s came as the flight attendant prepared us to leave. I was unusually attentive to the safety preparation instructions. He went through the usual instructions for the seat belt, safety information card, and life preserver. Then he got to the oxygen mask…
I happened to be sitting next to a small child (almost 3 – made me miss my own little one so much!) and his father. After instructing all of us in how to put on the oxygen mask, the flight attendant specifically came to our row to repeat it. “Sir, make sure you secure your mask before assisting your son.” There it was. We’ve heard this a million times, and yet it’s important enough to come over and remind parents individually. Why? Because it’s so counter-intuitive for parents. And it’s counter-intuitive for teachers.
We hardly ever ‘secure our oxygen mask’ before we attend to our students. [Read more…]
This post is part of my series on Wholehearted Teaching which provides some tips for tackling some of our greatest barriers to being “all in” with our calling as teachers. I previewed the series with a blog on self-compassion (the antidote to perfectionism), my last post was on modeling risk taking and learning from mistakes and failures (the antidote to fear of failure), and today we’ll tackle one of the biggest obstacles – the fear that we are not good enough to teach and that we are simply not enough for our students.
This is a silent killer of teacher’s souls. The thought lurks in the back of our brains. Sometimes never coming to the forefront of our thoughts, but silently wreaking havoc on our ability to be happy in our roles and with our performance as teachers. The truth is – it plays on our deepest fear – that we wouldn’t be good enough at the one thing we care most about – making a difference for our students. [Read more…]