Why Wellness Programs Are Far More Integral Than They Might Seem
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." -Audre Lorde
Talking about self-care and wellness programs can feel a bit light (superfluous). Many times, when I first talk about The Teaching Well with administrators or staff I’ll receive a series of responses:
“Well! That sounds like quite the luxury.”
“So… you bring wellness techniques we can use for students?”
“Wow! You push into professional development time to support teacher well-being. Is there enough time? How do they fit it in?”
The clients who have chosen to work with us this year understood that when their teachers are fully present (healthy mind, body, spirit) in the room, they are able to get through more content in less time. They also hold more clarity on how everyone can bring their strengths equally to the table. Here are three reasons why teacher well-being is integral to a thriving school ecosystem.
1. Creating Resilience against Compassion Fatigue
In the context of this summer, finding resilience in the faces of horrifying facts has been part of the national experience. Whether the death of Americans at the hands of police or the Trump/Hillary Campaign has been haunting your social media, this constant holding space for the painful experiences of others and how it affects our community is real. And, although it might be new for some, this process of being a participant in someone else’s traumatic experience is a normal, albeit uncomfortable, part of being a educator.
Consistently, teachers hold space for 20 - 200 wonderful beings who come from homes with a variety of experiences. This includes their accomplishments, happiness and growth as humans but also their challenges, anger, home struggles and tears. We support learning through connecting the the unique experience of each child and this includes gracefully navigating many young people’s emotional responses.
When educators are given space on their school sites to develop collective skills to stay resilient, they are more effective at redirecting students, supporting families and each other as a community working together to raise our next generation.
2. Workplace Wellness Programs WORK
As successful companies have shown us, providing wellness services for employees increases productivity and effectiveness. In the educatoin sector, with a direct focus on serving students, it can be easy to forget the part adults play in the equation. But just as we are looking to our most successful companies for design0based thinking, blended learning and effective management structures, we must also look to them for how they treat their people. And the reasons aren’t only to make employees feel supported through the work day. They’re also for long term financial success. These include:
-Decrease in health insurance premiums
-Decrease in sick days
-Increase in long term effectiveness and retention
3. How we treat ourselves is how we treat others.
Whether we think of Mirror Neurons or Kristen Neff’s self- compassion research, it is proven that how we take care of ourselves through times of stress accurately depicts how well we can react to others. And when we are stressed, our reactions are often exaggerated. As teachers, we are consistently in high-energy, high-expectations situations. It is integral that we have the tools to decrease stress at high impact moments.
When we speak of self-care at The Teaching Well, we are not talking about adding fluffy stuff to your day to be nice to teachers. We are talking about creating a team that is professionally committed to each other and personally committed their health and wellbeing. And by doing so, we create adult communities that have greater capacity to support students and families.
Join us in the movement-- and tap the well within!