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How to Prevent Burnout with Kindness: The Importance of Self-Care for Teachers

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Written by Kayla Reetz, Yoga Instructor + Trauma Supports Team Member


teacher self-care

"This was something entirely different. It was compassion in action. A recognition of how a day in the life must be and feel before asking more of the teachers. It was giving them a structured moment for reflection and care of them as a person and not an employee. And because of the 5 minutes given back to them, they were able to focus for that in-service after a long day." - Kayla Reetz

I recently had the opportunity to present a self-care in-service at an elementary school in Cedar Falls, IA.


I watched as the teachers trudged in before we began.


I recognized the smiles that teachers plastered on to hide their true emotions as they bantered with their colleagues and settled in.


It was the end of the day and at the end of the school year.


Their steps were slow and some seemed to fall into a chair rather than sit in it - all signs that say it had been a hard day.


A good day maybe, but a challenging one too.


I remember personal development days and in-services back when I was a teacher.


While it was nice to have days where I wasn’t constantly managing around 25 personalities and minds in the classroom all at once, it also felt overwhelming sometimes.


I only had to manage my own mind and, for me, tackle the “to-do” list.


And sometimes, even the simplest of “to-dos” felt the most challenging to complete.



Self-Care Quote


I was intrigued and a bit surprised with how this in-service began.


The principal led the beginning and started off by saying, “Let’s start by spreading some kindness first. We are at the end of the year, the buzz is in the air, and we all know while these days are fun, they can be quite challenging. So, our question as we start is who made a positive impact on you this year? Take a few moments to let them know.”


As the teachers got out their devices - yes, they were allowed to be on their phones and computers for a few minutes- I noticed the frowns and the deep furrows on the forehead indicating deep thought.


I noticed people scrolling through their contacts and texts, reflecting and thinking on an answer to their principal’s question.


And then I witnessed texting and typing. Some were writing, choosing not to use a device. Frowns and furrows slowly started to fade and an upturn on the edges of lips started to take their place.


When people reached the end of their assignment, the smile that reached their eyes came out, many would take a large breath and exhale it out of a sigh.


Then the principal started the in-service.



Kindness Quote

None of my past in-services started this way.


It was usually a gathering of focus, a review of the objectives or agenda, and then diving right in.


This was something entirely different. It was compassion in action. A recognition of how a day in the life must be and feel before asking more of the teachers. It was giving them a structured moment for reflection and care of them as a person and not an employee. And because of the 5 minutes given back to them, they were able to focus for that in-service after a long day.


And knowing what I shared now, it won’t surprise you to know this principal chose our in-service on intentional self-care for their teachers.


They actively chose to give tools and reminders to empower them not only as their employee, but as a person.


Because of this simple yet impactful choice, I tried to give as many kudos as I could to the principal.


A way Challenge to Change has brought this into their business is by practicing corporate kindness. There are many ways Challenge to Change does this, but the one I am most familiar with is our Changemaker grams. These are about the size of a postcard and often come in a special envelope. You always know it is special because of the handwritten words on the front of it.


Whenever I open one, there is always that spark of excitement- who could it be from? Why did they send it? What awesomeness have I done now!?


For me, the handwritten words are even more special than what they say. Handwritten means that someone took time to consider what to write, was intentional with the phrasing and looks, and that it mattered enough for them to mail it.



It's always exciting to give and receive Changemaker Grams!!


Now, don’t get me wrong. A text or an email at the right time of day is also a perfect bolster, and can be the sprinkle that makes the cupcake. I tend to file them away in the “warm fuzzies” folder of my email for bad days when I need a lift. 🙂 My handwritten ones are posted on my bedroom mirror so I see it everyday as I get ready for work. It’s a reminder that I am doing good and, well, that I am good- even if the day doesn’t go as planned.


So, before you continue your day, take a moment to answer the same question: “Who made a positive impact on you?” Let them know!


I wish all of you nothing but peace.


Peace in the mind, the heart and the rest of your day.


Namaste

~ Kayla Reetz



P.S. You can find that our entire library of meditations, yoga and fitness on our ONLINE WELLNESS PLATFORM, the C2C Hub. Get a free 2-week trial!



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