Support systems are important to our mental health. Finding others that understand our experiences is especially helpful. That’s why other teachers can be dependable sources of empathy, understanding and mutual self-care. Here are a few ideas of how teachers can support each other:
- Stay connected. Sometimes we get so busy, we forget to take the time to check in with each other. Try setting regular days and times to meet up with your teacher friend virtually or in person. If you make it a ‘date’ you’re more likely to continue meeting. Use your get togethers to check in on each other, talk about your successes, work through problems, practice self-care techniques or just enjoy a few laughs.
- Be open and trusting. We may feel nervous about sharing our thoughts and emotions. But chances are, at least some of your colleagues have similar feelings. Having an open and honest discussion about your thoughts and feelings not only helps you receive the support you need, but also creates a safe space for your colleagues to do the same. The more you practice these conversations, the easier it becomes.
- Listen. Don’t “fix it.” Sometimes we just need someone to listen. If a teacher friend comes to you, remember that it is not your responsibility or place to try to solve everyone’s problems. If you have some information or ideas you think they may find helpful, ask first if they are open to your thoughts or if they just want you to listen.
- Determine what is in your control and what is out of your control. Talk with your teaching friends to identify what stressors are within your control and what stressors are not. Knowing the difference helps you both decide when to spend energy toward making change and how to conserve your energy by accepting or adapting to things you cannot change.
- End your time together on a positive note. It might feel good to vent about your problems with a colleague. Make sure your conversations with teaching friends don’t focus only on the negative. Avoid falling into the trap of gossiping, blaming and rehashing complaints. Encourage each other by ending each conversation on a hopeful note or with an action step for making a positive change.
- Fun conversations. Also find time to talk about things that are not work-related – new recipes, hobbies, sports, exercise, a great book, music or shows you love to binge watch. The list can be endless.
- Practice self-care. Be sure to practice and encourage your colleagues to use self-care strategies every day, even if it’s just a few minutes. You can learn and share ideas with each other. For example, mindfulness, meditation, relaxation strategies, exercises and hobbies. You could even commit to doing some strategies together! Teachers supporting teachers results in happier, stronger, empowered adults. Teachers can provide and seek support among their colleagues who have insight into the day-to-day stressors and demands of their profession. Following a few simple steps for staying connected, listening, and sharing self-care can go a long way in building a healthy teacher to teacher bond that benefits all of us in the long run.
Looking for Specific Self-Care Ideas?
Check out the articles below.
- 8 Ways to Prevent Burnout
Teachers Helping Teachers
- Teachers Supporting Teachers
- Educators You Have Permission to Take Care of Yourself, Right Now