All of the teachers I know are givers. We give time, energy, money and whatever else we have to our students. We read about the latest curriculum trends, work on assessments at night and on the weekends and spend our free time thinking about how we could have explained something differently. People who are not teachers (except for those with a very close relationship to one) do not realize that teachers are always working. But should we be?
In the February 2015 issue of Child Development, researchers found that a teacher’s mental health state predicted student achievement. Specifically, the more symptoms of depression a teacher reported, the lower the measured classroom climate and the fewer academic gains students made. Of course, depression and overworking are not the same thing, but there is something to be said about the importance of self-care.
One year, we had a guest speaker at a faculty meeting and she made us promise to do one thing a day just for ourselves. I promised myself that I would smell lavender essential oil every day because the scent made me happy. As simple as it was, I broke that promise. I was too busy giving to receive.
In this New Year, I am reminding myself of the importance of self-care, and I will make another similar promise. As I remind myself that I cannot give what I do not have, I will take time for renewal. I challenge you to do the same. How will you fill your cup? Your students will thank you. More importantly, you will thank yourself.