The Art of Self-Care for Teachers: Saying "No."

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Last week, we discussed how practicing the art of self-care IS your duty.  Learning how to set boundaries at home and work helps you take care of YOU so you can take care of others. One valuable way to break your pattern of self-sacrifice is by learning how to gracefully say, “No.”

When you’re a chronic giver or helper, it’s really hard to tell people, “No.”  Most of us don’t like to disappoint people.  We avoid conflict when possible, and many people simply believe that taking care of one’s self is just plain selfish.  These days, more and more people have started shifting their beliefs around self-care; personal health and well-being have become a part of people’s lives in the 21st Century.  People are empowered when they can say, “No” to a request that is not absolutely necessary.

Please be aware of this important point:  When you begin to set boundaries and start saying, “NO,” people may seem disappointed.  Disappointment is a perception, and you’re NOT in charge of managing other people’s emotions.

To learn how to gracefully say, “No,” follow these three steps:

1. Buy Some Time

-Put space between the request and your answer. (Example:  “I’ll need to get back to you,” or “I’ll need to sleep on it.”)

-Let the person know that you may NOT be able to commit.  (Example:  “I’ve made the decision to limit the commitments I make, so I may not be able to do this.”)

2. Do a Gut-Check

-Take three deep breaths.

-Ask yourself, “On a scale from 1-10, how much do I really want to do this?”

-If you’re still unsure, ask yourself, “If I knew this person wouldn’t be angry, disappointed, or upset, would I say “No?”

 

3. Tell the Truth Directly…with Grace and Love

-BE HONEST about how you feel without over-explaining. (Example:  “I feel bad about letting you down, but I need to…”)

-Tell the truth directly in 1-2 concise lines.

-Ask how you can provide support. (Only do this when you have an ethical responsibility to someone or a situation, such as volunteering, promises, agreements, etc.)

 

When you set healthy boundaries at work and home, you will find that you’re happier, more productive, and feel more present in your life.  You will notice that your cup will feel fuller, and you will be more resilient in times of stress.  It’s vital for you to make a difference in your own life first, so you can make a difference in the lives of others.   Be an empowered educator in the 21st Century!

 

If you’d like to learn more about self-care, check out Cheryl Richardson’s book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care.

The Art of Self-Care for Teachers

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Are you familiar with the frog in boiling water metaphor?  (Of course, do not attempt this at home!)

Imagine a pot of cold water sitting on the burner of a stove. A frog is peacefully swimming in it. The heat is turned on, and the water starts warming up. The frog finds this pleasant and keeps swimming. The temperature keeps rising, though. Now, the water is a little more than what the frog enjoys; it becomes a bit tired, but it doesn’t panic. As the water continues to heat up, the frog finds it very uncomfortable, and it becomes weak. At this point, the frog withstands the heat as much as it can, but is unable to do anything. Sadly, you can probably imagine where this is going. The frog never tries to escape the pot and is consumed.

Next, imagine another frog being plunged into a pot of boiling water. The result is very different for this frog. The frog immediately gives a powerful push with its legs to get out of the boiling water. This frog survives and ends up being kissed by a princess…Oh, wait that’s a totally different story.

 

Seriously, do you ever feel like you’re the frog in either one of these scenarios?  You’re not alone if you answered, “Yes.”  I share this story with you to begin a conversation about self-care.  

Have you ever noticed that it is often easier to give than to receive?  Teachers are notorious for taking care of others before taking care of themselves.  For those of us labeled as “givers,” it feels good to be helpful.  There’s comfort and satisfaction knowing that we are needed in some way; so we keep giving.  When we become a chronic helper, by this I mean rarely or never saying, “No,” what we’re actually doing is sending a message to people that implies we will always be available.  So, we continue down this path (adapting to the warmer water) until we realize we’re exhausted, irritable, stressed-out, burned-out, or even ill.  This is the sign that should tell us that we’ve become the frog in the hot water; we’ve adapted to the discomfort that surrounds us, and now it’s too difficult to get out.

I know from personal experience that I have allowed people to push my boundaries, to the point of illness.  People in general, but specifically we teachers, are not as good at giving to ourselves and setting the necessary boundaries to keep us healthy and happy.  In the school setting, there are plenty of requests for your extra participation outside of your required educator duties.  I know… sometimes, it might even seem easier to teach when you’re sick than to create plans for a substitute teacher for a day or a week.  It’s also easier to keep the peace and sign up for one more non-mandatory committee than it is to say, “I’m unable to commit because I have enough on my plate at this time.” 

Practicing the art of self-care IS your duty.  Learning how to set boundaries at home and work helps you take care of YOU so you can take care of others.

 Stay tuned for my next blog; I’ll teach you how to stay resilient by gracefully saying, “No.”

Sniff-Sniff, Cough-Cough: Tips for teaching when you are sick

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It’s inevitable! You will become ill at some point during the school year.  Now, whether you choose to take care of yourself and stay home or you try to make it through the day teaching may be a tough decision.  I know you know that toughing it out and exposing your students and co-workers to whatever “bug” you caught is not the wisest decision, but still, we teachers do it anyway. 

Once you’ve made your decision to go to school or call in a substitute, the pressure to adjust or create sub plans hits. Ugh!  In some subject areas, it may be necessary to adjust or rewrite your daily lesson plans for a substitute, but NOT when it comes to Shurley English. As long as the teacher follows the step-by-step lesson plan designated in the teacher’s manual, there should be no reason why your scheduled Shurley English lesson should be skipped. 

If you’ve decided to tough it out instead of staying home, here are some tips to help get you through your Shurley English lesson:

A. If you have access to SEDA (Shurley English Digital Assistant), PRESS PLAY, and we’ll teach the lesson for you!

B. Empower a trusted student to lead the Jingles, Question & Answer Flow, and other appropriate parts of the lesson to help you.

C. Do your best to keep going in the lesson; it’s okay if you have to reteach the lesson when you feel better.

D. WRITE!  If you realize that you really should’ve stayed home and can’t even continue the lesson, use a writing prompt from a previous lesson to have your students work on during the class period.  Here’s the catch, it’s important to allow your students to work through the entire writing process. Students can work independently on their writing assignment and you can provide assistance, as needed. (Remember, this is not just busy-work! Allowing students opportunities to write is always time well spent.)

Teaching while feeling ill is no fun, so take care of YOU…so you can take care of your students!

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Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.