One night in 2017, I collapsed. I couldn’t breathe, and I went blind while fighting to stay conscious — I thought I had a stroke! In the emergency room, they hooked me up to an EKG to monitor my heart. Later, they wheeled me over to the MRI to check my brain for bleeding. I was a 44-year-old who suffered from high blood pressure, chronic migraines, and a HOST of health problems because I worked too hard and barely got any sleep. It was my last year of grad school — the final chapters of my dissertation were a testament to weeks of writing at all hours of the day and night.
My workaholism was triggered because of my teaching career. After all, it’s expected that all teachers work past reasonable hours, painstakingly crafting lessons, grading, and worrying about reaching one student or another. During my first year as a teacher, it wasn’t uncommon for me to start my day at 7 am and work until 11 pm. However, that habit never changed. You see, I came from a family with the mantra, “You can do anything if you put your mind to it.” Except I took this to the extreme: If and when you put your mind, heart, soul, and body to it.
On my hospital bed, I had an epiphany. If I gave all of myself over to my work, there would be nothing left. If I had a stroke before completing my dissertation, all my hard work would be for nothing.
I realized that no matter how hard I wanted to work, my body had its limits.
If I pushed past those limits, it would push back even harder. I got the message that night, loud and clear (and there IS such a thing as having too much coffee). It’s been three years since my visit to the emergency room, and since then, I’ve created systems to overcome my workaholism and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
As a teacher advocate, I want to keep you out of the hospital. 2020 was a year where teachers were expected to teach at least three times their teaching load, plan for multiple instructional changes in a week (or sometimes in a day), accommodate for different teaching environments and a lack of supplies, and be the emotional support for your students (and sometimes their parents), too. In some cases, teachers are also teaching and looking after their own children. And 2021 is shaping up to be the same!
No wonder you are exhausted!
While society expects teachers to work to death (with little acknowledgment or pay for it), you can’t and you shouldn’t. No job is worth killing yourself over. While social media feeds this toxic mentality that teachers should be expected to work (with little pay, little credit, eat your stress, and oh, and sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice), we say: SCREW THAT.
BE A REBEL TEACHER
Make space for yourself and establish healthy boundaries. Break the norms that say teachers should give everything and TAKE IT BACK. It’s imperative that you take care of yourself — not for work, but for YOU. For your sanity, health, and well-being. No matter what.
You’re probably wondering, “What’s this got to do with learning?”
And my response, as a learning theorist, is this: Maslow’s before Blooms. Meaning, if we don’t take care of our basic needs first, learning doesn’t happen. …and that’s not just about taking care of our kids’ needs, but YOURS, as well! You can’t be the best teacher you can be if you’re exhausted and stressed. Even if you’re the best teacher in the world, the world can’t benefit from your service if you burn out and quit.
So as you head into 2021, we are here for you. We will support the WHOLE teacher. During the month of January, we will still be giving you great strategies, tips, learning, and we will be creating space for your self-care identity to bloom as well. Self-care is a rebellious act of preserving oneself so that you can keep on giving the very best of yourself.
Are you interested in learning more? We have a class for that!!! Join us for a one-hour self-care workshop that will change your life. After all, YOU ARE WORTH IT.
Click HERE for our self-care workshop!
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