Get Ready for Summer with Mindful Reflection

Written By: Sonya Mehta

As the days warm and the school year enters its final stretch, we encourage you to take some deep breaths and begin to set intentions around how you'd like to wrap this school year up for yourself and your students. We were moved by this article, Teachers' Mental Health Linked to Students' Wellbeing, as it provides one more set of data that confirms what we viscerally know to be true from working with educators across school communities.

Resourcing ourselves allows us to be better for our students, colleagues, families, and school communities as a whole. It allows us to show up fully in the movement for educational justice without doing so at a personal cost. We're grateful for all you do, and are excited to share some reflection ideas that you can use to close out the year strong.

We encourage you to set aside some intentional time between now and the end of the school year (or immediately after, if your summer has already started) to engage in mindful reflection using whatever modality you prefer: drawing, collaging, writing, walking in nature, talking to a friend or colleague, or simply sitting in mindful silence. See if you can identify:

  • Three habits of wellbeing - large or small - that you have cultivated over the course of the year. Where have you grown in your practice of self-care and community-care? Are you more likely to notice your stress signals? Are you more likely to go on a walk when you feel anxiety? Have you committed to drinking more water? Have you grown in your capacity to be honest with your colleagues?

  • Any growth edges--places you have deprioritized your own wellness and it has come at a cost. Was there a week when you knew you should have taken a preventative sick or personal day, but didn’t, and then found yourself getting even sicker because of that? Were there times you said yes to additional commitments, despite knowing they would take you past your limit? For each of these instances, see if you can come up with something you’d do differently next time, to honor your energy level and personal sustainability.

  • What it will take for you to be able to do your job sustainably, over the course of the next year, and over the course of your career. What would have to change in your work-life balance, your belief systems, and your boundaries in order to be able to do this work for years to come? What are ways you can shift outcomes for students and show up even more fully as an educator, by prioritizing your own health and wellbeing? For this work to continue to feel joyful and purposeful, what do you need for next year? How will you ask for support?

We know that children learn most effectively in nurturing, supportive environments and with adults who are calm, regulated, and able to be present with them. We invite you to invest in your teaching by showing up fully for yourself, as you #tapthewellwithin.

Sonya works as Director of Partnerships for The Teaching Well, an organization dedicated to shifting educators from burnout to sustainability. This blog was originally published for Illuminate Education, here.

Kelly Knoche