My word for this school year is self-care. I can't stress enough how important it is for your physical and mental health to take the time out for yourself.
We are always focused on everything but ourselves.
We can't pour from an empty cup, so I wanted to share 5 strategies that you can use when you are feeling like an overworked special education teacher.
Something that I hear all of the time is how special education has such a high burnout rate and you will only last about 5 years in a position. If you add-in a global pandemic on top of that, now you have teachers wanting to quit.
So, please find the time to focus on both your physical health and mental health so that you can be there for your students and your family and friends.
1.Take personal days
I know what your gonna say, “My students need me, I can't take personal time off…”. Trust me when I tell you this, you are a lot more useful when you are well-rested than when pulling out your hair at the end of the day. Go ahead and use these days when you need them the most. Take a “me” day and spend time and money on yourself. No significant other, no children, no friends. Get a massage, get a manicure or pedicure, go get your hair done, go shopping. Do all the things you want to do, but make sure that you rest and recharge.
2. Set and maintain boundaries
Leave work on time. I mean it. Make it your mission to use your lunch and planning time to tie up loose ends before the end of the day. Also, don't go to work early. That can become a bad habit. You can't ever get those hours back. And please try not to bring work home. Leave it there, it will be there when you come back in the morning.
3. Start a hobby
For example, remember you used to love reading and you just don't have time for it anymore? Well, not this year. Take back your “you” time and start reading again, even if it's just a few minutes every night. You will feel better. Maybe you would rather binge-watch Schitt’s Creek and each episode you get to laugh for 22 minutes! Make time for your hobby.
4. Learn to say no
I know this is hard to do because teachers are just by nature “yes” people because we want to be helpful and needed so whenever we're asked to do something above and beyond we typically say yes but this is the year I want you to say no! And learn to accept that it's okay to say no and not feel guilty about it.
5. Get support
If you feel unsupported and overworked and stretched to the max and you don't feel like you are being supported at your current job, then this is the year to take a leap of faith and find a new job! There is another job out there for you, I promise! It is not worth risking your health, day-in and day-out feeling like you can never catch up and you feel so unsupported and no one's listening … I can't tell you how good it feels to walk away from a position like that into something that makes you want to go to work every day. You want a job that understands you and supports you and understands the needs of the students.
If you are looking for more effective ways to work with your paraprofessionals, you can read all about it in this blog post.
To recap, my word for this year is SELF-CARE. I plan on implementing all five of these strategies for the rest of the 2021 school year.
I'm so tired of not putting myself first and feeling so bad about it, so this year I am focusing on myself and I hope that you do too!!
Tell me in the comments what your word of the year is!