Think about your child’s teachers. Somewhere in their decision to become a teacher, there was likely a part of them that wanted to make a difference. Perhaps it was a love of learning or for children. But did they have any idea of how much mental energy teaching would require?
For teachers, just as for parents, embracing what we have control over and what lies beyond our control is an important part of self-care. Just as parenting is no place for perfectionism, neither is teaching. Working with people, especially children, is a messy business. There are no pat answers and formulas that will deliver a perfect outcome in those moments when challenges erupt. Yes, some approaches work better than others and you discover this as you move through your experiences. You also know that what works with one child may not work with another. Even more difficult, what works with one child one day, may not work with that same child another day.
When you face challenging behaviours and unpredictable situations, you are making decisions in that moment. You jump in, putting your best foot forward. You call on your values, your experience and your heart and still, it may go sideways. Worse yet, you may have the panel of judges standing on the sidelines with their scorecards, real or imagined. This concern makes it difficult to say “good enough” when you need to or you will exhaust yourself.
Unlnike parents, teachers do not have control over a child’s homelife or history. Various triggers contribute to difficulties, often making responses or consequences ineffective. This means that no matter what you do, challenges will continue until the triggers are identified and managed. Sometimes what is needed for a child to experience improvement is simple maturity.
So how do you protect your heart, your passion and your energy as a teacher?
• Have boundaries around your time and availability.
• Get clear with what is actually in your control.
• Talk it out with good listeners.
• Turn off the monkey mind and end your day at a set time.
• Practice saying “good enough” even if your inner critic screams at you to do better.
• Pull out resources from colleagues, students and parents by asking coaching-type questions rather than being the expert and problem solver. “What could work?” “What else?
• Value self-care. What works for you? What else?
LIFE Seminars has two books available, Sidestepping the Power Struggle and The Parent Child Connection. See lifeseminars.com.