Becoming a Master Teacher: Practice Self Care
I have spent my career studying the systems and experiences that make school a dangerous place for students. This led me to teaching. I felt the way I could make the most impact was to be in the classroom, working directly with students and developing creative and engaging content. I still feel this way. But this is no longer why I teach.
Today, I teach because I thoroughly enjoy going to work every day to hang out with a bunch of teenagers. I teach because sharing my love of history and sociology with others makes me giggle with joy. I teach because, on Friday, a student walked right up to me at the beginning of class and said, to my face, “You know what, Ms. Date, you are a just a grown-up nerd.” I teach because my students are the center of my world, and I love that about them.
Non-teachers may say think this sentiment is “cute”. Some teachers may call it impossible and cliché. Whatever they may think, it’s the truth.
But, how do I maintain a commitment to my students without losing myself? How do I remember to take care of me so I don’t turn into an ineffective, hangry, blubbering mess?
Self-care is my mantra. In the past few years, I have worked (and continue to work) on taking care of myself. There are a ton of resources out there, and here to help keep sane. But for me, putting myself first has come down to a couple of key strategies:
I fully anticipate that my life will continue to be filled to the brim with students, school, educational-extracurriculars (I see you Action Research Group!), and my own social life. This makes me happy, but this does not leave much room for me. Self-care helps me maintain that balance. I implore you to find that care for you. Take a breath, and think about your needs first for a change. You’ll be surprised how such a small moment for you can make a big difference for your students.
Sophie Date is an 11th and 12th grade history teacher in Germantown. She is constantly amazed and inspired by her students’ curiosity and is passionate about creating systems that help people develop new possibilities. She loves teaching history and passes that on to her students each day.