Heading 1NDMTSS Conference
Teachers have always needed to know and practice protective strategies in their social emotional first aid kits to manage the daily stressors of working on the front lines of a human-service oriented profession. That need has never been greater given the massive increase in uncertainty and unpredictability in the teaching profession and in one's personal life due to COVID.
In short, teaching is emotional labor-- the effort required to manage and metabolize strong emotions like anger, shame, guilt, anxiety, and overwhelm, as well as generate and stoke positive emotions like joy, hope, and compassion.
Stress significantly diminishes a teacher's capacity to regulate their negative emotions and cultivate positive emotions. Ironically, teachers who leave the profession often cite their inability to cope with their own emotional reactions to loss of control, unpredictability, and lack of purpose in their teaching as the primary reason for burnout.
There are many, many strategies and practices rooted in cognitive and affective neuroscience and social and behavioral sciences that teachers can learn, practice, and integrate into their personal and professional lives as teachers to metabolize stress, manage negative energy, protect themselves from the burnout cycle, and find joy in teaching the whole year through!
In this session, teachers will:
Explore the core elements of the teacher burnout cycle and learn how to protect one's self from the 2 paths to burning out,
with yourself and another
through In-Tuning (with the self) and Attuning (to another)
"In any close relationship, connection means becoming a PART of the communication in that moment.
By being present for what is happening as it is happening, attuning to the inner experience of what is going on with the other person-
not just to their external behaviors but actually resonating with their internal experience--
a trust is born." (p. 242)
I. READY YOURSELF
Before engaging another, deliberately shift your INTENTION to the act of "non-doing" and enter your BEING mode: *Yes... this is enough :)
allowing their expression of thought and emotions
feeling compassion ("with feel") and perspective
re-mind yourself that it is not your job to fix or solve anything. This is a process for creating emotional safety and space for the speaker to "in-tune" to their experience gaining insight (not information) and making meaning. This is how we create opportunities for another to develop social emotional awareness and resilience.
II. Steps to Stoke EMOTIONAL AWARENESS and RESILIENCE
When you bring your full calm, centered, and witnessing presence into the space you are holding with your educators, you are better able to facilitate their emotional awareness and resilience.
When you are stable and centered, you are able to watch any re-action you are having in the moment depending on what is happening and allow it to be without the reaction adding to the moment.
When a teacher or student is needing a safe emotional space to process anxiety, fear, guilt, sadness, anger, or frustration, you can walk them through the Infinite Well-Being Model:
STEP 1: Create space to acknowledge and name the challenge or problem or concern directly. Have them name all the nuances of it and the context of it.
STEP 2: As them to explore their initial reactions in thought about the situation.
You could even list all of these out.
STEP 3: Have them use the Emotional Literacy sheets at the bottom of the page to choose emotions that they experience as they think particular thoughts about the current situation.
STEP 4: Encourage them to notice how then actions are connected to their perception, thoughts, and emotions about the situation.
What were 2- 3 of your immediate thoughts?
(*It is OK if they are "judgy.")
Describe the challenge, situation, problem, context, or stressful event with objective details.
Who was there?
What lead up to the event?
When you thought those thoughts, what initial emotions immediately arose in you?
Describe their intensity? Where they immediately intense or more slow building?
When you thought those thought and felt those emotions, what did you do?
What did you say?
After you have created space for you staff (student, teacher, parent) to express their perception of the problem/challenge, it is now time for people to come back into their bodies (and out of their heads) and reconnect with their breath, purpose, and values.
This need not be long to be effective! One of the best ways to facilitate this is to share this guided video:
INTENTION: RE-PERCEIVE in ALIGNMENT
Acting in alignment with our core values and personal purposes helps to stage-off emotional burnout and moral injury. Moral injury happens when teachers (and leaders...and students, too) feel that they are being asked to do things that do not align with what they value and who they are as individuals.
Show this value sheet and ask your teachers to pick their top 3 values as an educator.
Have them recall and write down:
As a teacher, my purpose is....
Now you will repeat moving their full attention through the Infinite Well-Being Model again, but this time, the focus will be on creating and imagining new thoughts, feelings, and actions about the problem/situation that are in more alignment with their values and purpose as a teacher.
This process helps teachers to turn their "threat" perspective of a stressor into a "challenge." When things threaten us, toxic stress sets in. When things "challenge" us we build resilience!
Describe the challenge, situation, problem, context, or stressful event with MORE context:
What else was going on in this moment?
What else is at play that is not "visible?"
What additional stressors are at work?
Replace ONE initial thought with one that is more compassionate and more in alignment with your values. What would that thought be?
What is one action you can choose to take next time in a similar situation that is more in alignment with your values?
When you think a thought that is more in alignment with your values and self-compassion, what emotion do you feel?
What are your top 2 relationship-based values?
Seek Insight (vs. information)
Guide your educators through extracting INSIGHT vs information about the problem:
What is ONE new insight, expanded awareness, or AHA you are seeing about how you related to yourself, that experience, or the person in the experience?
What is ONE thing you noticed about attuning to the inner experience of what is going on for another person?
How did compassion (feeling with) another help protect your energy while also creating a protective space for another to feel heard, seen, and understood?
Anxiety is a common reaction to stressful events that feel like threats.
The antidote to anxiety is always found right within the stress trigger--VALUE BASED ACTION
When you hold the space for another to explore their perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and actions to a stress trigger, individuals cultivate emotional intelligence and they sync up their minds and bodies.
ACTION is the best antidote to anxiety. Taking action after cultivating more awareness of the situation from so many angles helps an individual decide what action they want to take next.
Have your teachers list their brainstormed VALUE-BASED ACTIONS that get produced after they have engaged the Infinite Well-Being Model.
Finally, ask them what they need to help them take purposeful action.