It’s so important to have a support system during this time. Turn to other teachers as dependable sources of empathy, understanding and mutual self-care. Here are a few ideas.
- Stay connected. We can’t support each other if we never connect. Try setting regular days and times to meet up with your teacher buddy virtually or in person with safe distancing. 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. Feel free to share some of your worries, fears or questions. Experiencing stress or fear during challenging and unpredictable times is to be expected. Chances are, at least some of your colleagues have similar feelings. Don’t feel pressured to discuss matters you feel are too private.
- Practice self-care first. Be sure to practice and encourage your colleagues to use self-care strategies each day. Learn and share ideas about: mindfulness, meditation, self-calming strategies, exercises and hobbies that take your minds off of school stress and rejuvenate you. Commit to doing some strategies together over the phone, virtually or in person at a safe distance each time you meet.
- Share it. Don’t “fix it.” Be open to sharing ideas about work problems. It is not your responsibility or place to try to solve everyone’s problems; you can simply share information that you find helpful if others wish to hear it.
- Determine what is in your control and what is out of your control. Talk with your teaching buddy 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 get together on a positive note. It might feel good to vent about your problems with a buddy. Make sure your conversations with teaching buddies 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.
- Stop talking about work. Connection is what makes your teaching buddy a buddy. Spend time talking 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.
- Write it down. Your teaching buddies might not always be available when you need them. If you can’t connect when something arises, you can record your thoughts in a journal. This allows you to think through what’s bothering you and maybe discover some solutions to a problem.
- Set boundaries. All healthy relationships have boundaries. Be respectful of your teaching friends and yourself. Listening is a two way street; pay attention to what your buddy is saying and be open to sharing as well. Avoid giving unwanted advice, passing judgment, pressuring someone to share information or feeling you have to share more than you want to.
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
- Empowering Students to Take Control of their World
The Counseling Teacher
- Teachers Supporting Teachers
- Educators You Have Permission to Take Care of Yourself, Right Now