This past year I’ve had the opportunity to teach a 1 hour professional development called, Mindful Tools for Stress and Anxiety to classroom teachers.
I’ve been in and out of hundreds of schools over the past eleven years and have found that teachers are craving moments of calm so they can take care of themselves. When teachers are consistently taking care of their students in roles such as a nurse, best friend, parent, social worker and the list goes on, it’s very hard for them to manage their own stress and put themselves first.
Yesterday I got to my PD a little early and got to watch the school secretary during dismissal time. The secretary was managing at least 7 tasks at the same time while 400 children flooded out the door to be dismissed.
This was a sliver of the job I got to see. My mom was a secretary at an elementary school for over 20 years. I would see her overworked and overwhelmed as she put her self-care on hold for the benefits of the school community.
When we get to teach schools how to find moments in the day to pause and connect with themselves it serves as a self-care practice that will benefit everyone. The person experiencing stress and the school community. We cannot pour from an empty cup.
I’ve been talking about what mindfulness is and how we can create moments in the day to be mindful. We don’t need to wake up at 4:00am and sit on a pillow with our eyes closed for 30-60 minutes. We can find these mini mindful moments when we are bustling through the day. We can notice the air on our skin, the way a bite of food tastes on our tongue, the breath moving in and out or the way our feet feel in our shoes as we walk slowly to the bathroom for a break.
If we can empower teachers to understand what happens in the brain and how to shift from anxious to less anxious, they can then teach their students.
We are in an epidemic of stress and anxiety. It’s unrealistic to make our teachers teach stress management when most are trying their best to teach a particular curriculum, take a bathroom break when they need it and attend to multiple behaviors in the classroom. Basic needs must be met before we can truly feel capable of leading tools for stress and anxiety.