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,
"For schools to be well, educators need to be well..."
"Teacher wellness is critical to creating schools that protect students' potential and function as their homeplace....
Being well helps you fight racism with love, grace, and compassion and frees mental space to freedom-dream and to give them hell, and then retreat to your community of love for support, fulfillment, and nourishment-- your homeplace."
We know in our bones that teacher health and well-being matter because teachers and their calling matter. And we also know that teachers are called to serve, teach, and hold spaces of healing for their students; thus teacher well-being is intricately intertwined with student well-being.
Investing in our mental and emotional health allows us to be more present, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, for the students we are called to serve. Stress clouds our capacity to feel and see straight; and by "see straight" we mean seeing, feeling, and acting in alignment with our inner capacity for love, compassion, equity, and kindness.
Depersonalization Derails our Social Justice Work
As unprocessed and accumulated stress creates a feeling of heaviness in our hearts, a lack of passion in our spirits, and a distorted perception of reality and others, burnout manifests as "depersonalization."
Depersonalization is a natural by-product coping mechanism of burnout, and research demonstrates that there exists a strong relationship between teacher burnout and cynicism, bias, and intolerance of self and others. When we begin to SEE students through the foggy lens of depersonalization, we may mis-perceive student behavior from an angle of disgust and contempt, and "if teachers view a student on her or his behavior with disgust and contempt, they have an excuse not to treat her or him with care, respect, and compassion" (Jennings, 2015, p. 77).
When we are fully present for our students in ways that stress does not cloud our being-ness and our seeing, our students can experience feeling known. But first before we can turn our compassionate sight onto our students, we must learn how to experience being present for and knowing ourselves by cultivating in-sight. There is a systematic, simple, (yet not easy) path to practicing self-awareness, self-knowing, and self-seeing.
Teaching Children and Youth Is A Privilege
The inspiration for Present TeacherTM stems from a deep reverence for all students and a desire for every student to feel seen, spiritually and emotionally protected, and known by the teachers in their lives. Thus Present TeacherTM was birthed from the the desire to create spaces for community, training, and professional learning experiences for teachers that is rooted in research-based practices that engage the origins of teacher mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being so that we can deliberately and intentionally cultivate our PRESENCE for children.
A teacher's healthy and happy PRESENCE is influential: it is that whole "mirror-neuron" principle at work. We have social brains where we are hard-wired to sync our emotional states with those in our presence. When we see ourselves through the eyes of self-love, self-respect, and self-worth, we see our students with eyes of love, respect, and dignity. When this happens, our presence creates a mirror for them to see themselves through their own eyes of love, respect, and dignity.
"To work for peace and justice,
we begin with the individual practice of love,
because it is there that we can experience firsthand love's transformative power."
Strengthening Ourselves = Strengthening Our Classrooms & Communities
We believe that teaching is a spiritual practice that provides experience after experience to "re-fine" ourselves (aka-- practice healing our trauma and fear-based thinking) and align ourselves with our innate wholeness and pure potential to be who we aspire to be for our students and ourselves.
We believe that our teaching practice becomes more inclusive, kind, and equitable when we do the work of refining and aligning ourselves with thoughts, emotions, and actions that are loving, compassionate, and conscious.
We believe in our power to heal our hurts and our traumas. Many teachers are called to this profession because of their capacity to hold spaces of healing for students, however, it is CRITICAL that teachers learn how to understand, process, and integrate their trauma-- especially when it gets triggered from the teaching profession.
We believe that teachers can learn and engage research-based practices that cultivate resilience by using the stress triggers as the catalyst for deeper self-awareness, situational awareness, and embodied equity. The "problem" really is the portal to healing, self-transformation, and conscious action.
We believe that when we act in alignment with our core selves, inherent goodness, and wholeness, we do not bring judgment, shame, criticism, and violence into the world.
We believe that when teachers are provided spaces of learning and community to engage strategies, practices, and habits of mind about teacher mental and emotional health, we create rich opportunities for them to stage of moral injury-- a soul wound inflicted on a teacher who feels like her/his/their values and professional decisions cannot be expressed through their teaching practice.
We believe that all teachers deserve training and professional learning experiences that help them learn how to metabolize the stress that comes from serving in a heart-centered, healing profession. Teachers are not to blame for being and feeling stressed. It is our job to create sustained professional learning experiences that center on their mental, emotional, and spiritual health so they can process and protect themselves from the stressors of the profession that insidiously and silently work to distance themselves from their own spirit and their students.
Present TeacherTM Training is a research-based professional learning curriculum that intentionally, systematically, and deliberately cultivates dispositional habits of mind and body that work for peace, justice, and love from the inside-out as we engage practices and experiences rooted in neuro-science, mindfulness, contemplative practices, culturally relevant pedagogy theory and practice, and teacher social and emotional transformation theory to promote social justice competencies of self-awareness, emotional intelligence and resilience, and compassion and connection: