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,
Top 4 Mindfulness Tips for Teachers
daily stillness ritual
Quieting your mind, if only for 5 minutes every day, will have a tremendous impact on your teaching.
A routine, daily stillness practice will provide you with a sense of ease, control, and contentment even amidst your most hectic teaching days. Intentionally carving out this time to ground yourself and reconnect with your inner calm need not be long to be effective.
The benefits come from making it a routine. Every day, designate at least 2-5 minutes for stillness.
Find a space in your teaching day or your personal life to routinely give yourself permission to step out of the “doing” and into the being mode. The key is to make it a habit.
Through your stillness ritual, you will reconnect with your inner energy and centeredness. You will take this oasis of calm with you as you return to your daily teaching responsibilities more effectively and efficiently. You’ll show up to your students more calm and compassionate. And you will feel amazing!
Drop in on yourself
As teachers, we are trained in assessment. Yet we rarely take the time to self-assess. Make it a habit to drop in on yourself through your day and ask-- How am I doing? What do I need?
Mindfulness is awareness of what’s happening in the present moment, on purpose, and without judgment—and that includes being aware of what’s happening within you as well.
Being aware of how you are feeling in the moment is essential to being present in your teaching. When you know what is happening on the inside, you are better able to direct your energy in positive ways on the outside.
Cultivate this self-awareness of your physical and emotional state on a regular and routine basis by asking yourself what you need and then create the space to listen.
Pose the question often and then notice what arises. Just listen, pay attention, and respond to your need just like you would if it was the need of another.
What sounds in the classroom stress you out?
What sights in the classroom stress you out?
So many different sounds and sights in the day and life of a teacher are naturally stress inducing. The next time you see specific sights or hear those sounds that have a way of causing a tidal wave of strong reaction, practice “just” seeing and “just” hearing.
Become AWARE of your bodily reaction—stick with the sensation—and keep watching it! In this noticing, you will allow it to rise and fall without adding to its intensity.
This is mindfulness-- pure observation without our thinking mind re-acting unconsciously. In a matter of time, you will return to your capacity to “just see” or “just hear” and be able to choose your response to the situation. This takes practice, so when you do react even after a few seconds pause of observation and noticing of what's coming up for you, practice non-judgment of your reaction! Over time, the SPACE between the trigger and your reaction will get bigger....and bigger...and bigger.....
PRACTICE THE PEACEFUL TEACHER PAUSE
In those overwhelming moments of teaching, when you feel like you’re just about to “lose it,” it helps to have a tool to put into place to change the momentum of the negative energy surrounding the situation. That tool is your breath.
As soon as you notice yourself getting angry, frustrated, irritate, overwhelmed, or anxious, pause whatever it is that you are doing, take three deep breaths, feel your mind and body become peaceful and present, and then proceed calmly.
The key to the Peaceful Teacher Pause is you knowing when you need it!
Practice in front of your students. When you notice you need to pause to re-center (yourself and/or them), ground your feet and tell your students about what you are noticing both externally in the environment and what you are feeling/ noticing on the inside. Demonstrate for them how effective and efficient it is to pause and take a short breath break. Your breath is a neutralizing force. It calms your physical body while refocusing your mind.
Practice the Peaceful Teacher Pause in the moment of stress and irritation, and you’ll reduce the likelihood of a teacher emotional meltdown and ensure the likelihood that you’ll gain a new perspective that allows you to respond to students and the situation with clarity, understanding, and kindness.