Last week on the blog, I reshared a post I wrote about self-care for teachers and leaders. It was inspired by a presentation I’d attended by mindset coach Kylie Broadfoot from KMB Coaching. Kylie’s message resonated with many readers so today I’ve invited her back as a guest poster to expand on this important topic.
I know this is a literacy and leadership blog, but underneath all our teacher and leader clothes we’re all humans. And as humans we only have 1 body and 1 mind- so we need to take care of them!
Have a read of Kylie’s message and let me know what you think in the comments below.
I’m going to take a punt and guess that you became a teacher because you want to help others. Specifically, children.
Coming from an allied health background myself and having worked in disability and health settings, I know the presumption that can come with that: that you’re just in the job to ‘help others’. That you’re prepared to give over and above what’s asked of you. That your values will ensure that you continue to deliver on that promise, no matter what the toll.
And to be perfectly honest with you, nothing grinds my gears more.
Why? Because it’s unsustainable. It leads to burnout. And good people leaving.
There is no denying that 2020/21 has been quite the challenge (no shizzle, Sherlock).
Educators were thrust into an unknown world back in 2020, when teaching became synonymous with ‘remote learning’, Webex meetings, online lesson plans and managing student and parent angst. And that’s not even including any impact on your own children or learning how to suddenly work from home or being plunged into a world of technology and delivery that you may have wanted no part of, or maybe realised you weren’t equipped to do.
Recent teacher survey data on the job’s challenges
According to this article – ‘Rewarding’, but four in five teachers consider quitting in pandemic, a survey of teachers found that 84 percent of them were spending more time providing emotional support to students this year. They also acknowledged that managing children’s behaviour was becoming a bigger and more difficult part of the job as well.
The article goes on to say: “It’s a sentiment borne out by the Australian College of Educators’ 2021 teachers report card, which unearthed the seemingly contradictory finding that 85 percent of Victorian teachers find their job rewarding, but 83 percent of them have thought about leaving their profession in the past year.”
The reasons include workload (27 percent said they worked at least six days a week), remuneration (49 percent are unhappy with their level of pay) and work-life balance (78 percent said they struggled with this).
The survey also found that 22 percent of Victorian teachers “were unable to maintain a positive outlook as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.”
Combine that with the article, Australian Education Union hears concerns from ‘exhausted’ Victorian teachers, which indicates that teachers are working an average of 15 hours of unpaid overtime a week, principals are working 60 hours a week and support staff simply aren;t able to do the required work within their paid hours.
It paints a pretty stark picture. And it doesn’t take into account that teachers experienced significant stress in the days before COVID made an appearance.
Why is teacher and leader wellbeing important?
“Research suggests that teacher wellbeing not only improves the health and wellbeing of the teachers themselves, but also has a positive impact on students and their learning outcomes” – Preventing teacher stress and burnout, and improving wellbeing
What can teachers and leaders do to support their own wellbeing?
What if learning the art of SELF-leadership could be a way to continue to do your job well, make a difference AND also develop sustainable behaviours so that you bypass burnout? (In my opinion, burnout is inevitable if you fall into some of those stats above).
I’m going to outline 4 ways that you can boost your own self leadership so that you can thrive when anything the world around you throws at you comes hurtling your way.
While there are many things that could fit under self-leadership, below are some key ones. If you find yourself reading one thinking “I’ve heard this so many times before”, ask yourself if you’re actually doing it. Chances are, you’re not (hard truth time).
This doesn’t mean you should beat up on yourself. In fact, quite the opposite – my invitation to you is to be kind and compassionate with yourself first (and last!) and aim for small, incremental changes that are realistic if you commit to them.
1. Prioritise yourself.
- Decide that YOU are worthy of time, energy and attention – from yourself.
- This one requires taking responsibility for the fact that nobody else will do this for you. NO-body is coming to ‘save you’. It is up to you.
- You could work every minute of every day, 7 days per week for the next 365 days, and there would STILL be work you could do. The work is there.
- Are you the most productive when you work endlessly and never recharge? I’m going to say ‘no’ on your behalf.
- Rest is counterintuitive to productivity, but it really works.
2. Set a very clear intention for taking care of yourself.
- What is ONE small, very realistic way you can take care of yourself, starting tomorrow (or now if you like!)
- This should be a way that you can nurture yourself, and tick it off every single day.
- It might be having your tea in peace first thing in the morning before you check anything on your phone.
- Maybe it’s putting your leggings and runners on and getting outside for a brisk 10 minute walk.
- Maybe it’s a 10 minute meditation (and no, you’re not ‘bad’ at meditating. Don’t believe that baloney- that you should have no thoughts and a quiet mind. It’s rubbish! Just acknowledge the thoughts are there, and come back to your breath – again, just breathing, nothing fancy).
- Or focus on 3 things you’re grateful for and 3 things that went well in your day, as you head to bed at night. This encourages your mind to search its catalogue system for these things, that otherwise would get auto-deleted.
3. Keep your promises to yourself.
- This is a big one! It’s all very well to decide you’re going to do steps 1 and 2 – ‘yesssss, Kylie, I’m going to make myself a priority and I’m going to meditate every single day for the rest of my life’. Nek minute, it’s out the door cos you pressed snooze one too many times, you have a busy week, your child was sick and it’s pouring outside and the doona is waaaayyy too cosy for you to get your butt up out of it. Sound familiar? Yup!
- So, this is the part where you actually build your self esteem instead of constantly diminishing it, by keeping your promises to yourself, instead of breaking them.
- This is why it is especially important to make step 2 super-simple. And seeing I’m talking to teachers, it needs to be simple enough for you to be able to explain to a 4yo at kinder and for them to ‘get it’.
4. Do Less.
- What can you let go of that is not serving you? (Tasks; thinking; limiting beliefs etc).
- What is not working out for you? (Scrolling socials endlessly; ‘taking the edge off’ by cracking a bottle of wine open when you get home; thinking you need to do things ‘perfectly’; not asking for help / support; not getting enough sleep).
These questions may be super-beneficial for you to gain clarity:
- What am I choosing to let go of?
- What am I ready to embrace? (Making mistakes over trying to get things perfect; putting myself first; leaving work on time)
- What are the beliefs that will support me with this? (I am amazing at what I do; I am worthy of taking care of myself; I am my first priority; I will look after myself so I am the best version of me for my students / staff)
If your mission in your career is to ‘have a positive impact on students and their learning outcomes’, as per the quote above, knowing that this can actually be boosted by you focusing on your OWN health and wellbeing, there isn’t really a reason why you wouldn’t do these things, now is there?
Do this quick action right now:
I want you to close your eyes (just for a minute – you’ll be missing out big time if you don’t do this bit, and yes who cares if you feel like a goose) and cast your mind’s eye out to a future time that hasn’t happened yet- where it’s the end of Term 1, next year. I want you to imagine what will be different when you’ve committed to engaging in the practice of self leadership for the past 3 months:
- What are you seeing?
- What are you hearing?
- What are you telling yourself?
- What are you feeling?
Allow yourself to dive into this experience and turn on ALL your senses. Experiencing it, as if it is happening right now.
And now know this – once you can imagine these things, you have the neural connections to make this happen. It is possible for you. You just need to follow through and do the work.
Take the action.
Be the leader of and for yourself.
And if it all goes pear-shaped (which it inevitably will – cos guess what, you’re a human not a robot), you just practise kindness and compassion, review your intentions (in case they’re too lofty) and get back on the horse, my friend.
You’ve got this!
If you loved this and would like to let me know any insights, wins or have any questions, feel free to drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org as well. I love hearing from people!
Also, if you’d like to read more, you might like to check out this Blog I wrote back in Lockdown3.0 about Do You Dial UP Self Care Under Pressure?
Let’s stay connected!
Also, If you’re keen to EXPAND any area of your life in 2022:
- whether that’s your career, health and wellbeing, abundance, joy; vitality; self-leadership (wink, wink); vulnerability; manifesting skills; wealth; intimate relationship; social life and (you guessed it!) anything else, my EXPAND online membership program is for you! Online modules to go at your own pace; live (recorded) trainings by me via zoom; a dedicated facebook group and an amazing community of women.
- To keep up to date and be the first to know when this is launching, please email me here: email@example.com to let me know your email address and let me know you’re keen on EXPAND and I’ll add you to my mailing list for EXPAND so you’re in the loop.
In the meantime, wishing you very Happy Holidays and an absolutely magnificent 2022.
Related Blog Posts:
- End of year self-care for teachers and leaders
- 10 books to teach friendship, kindness and gratitude
- Are you considering a leadership role?