I love teaching mindfulness to students. For years, I made an effort to introduce an eight-week mindfulness course to every ninth grader at my school.
One day I showed up and was feeling weary and low. My son was home sick from school, my daughter was in daycare (and I was sure she was coming down with something), and my husband and I had had a fight that morning. I wasn’t feeling emotionally or physically well. I was also at a point in my career where many things were hard for me: I wasn’t sure I was effectively helping students, I felt like I was working too much, and I wasn’t creating the impact in my school that I wanted to. I was on the verge of burning out.
Although teaching mindfulness to students usually made me feel better, that morning, I led a group of students who weren’t receptive to mindfulness ideas. They were challenging me on lots of practices. When I shared about an upcoming mental health event I was hosting away from the school, one particular student asked, “Will you be there?” I was taken aback and replied, “Of course. Does that matter?” to which he cruelly replied, “It sure does. No one wants to go if you’re there.”
I could feel the tears of rage and hurt come up, but instead of crying in front of this class—remember, I wasn’t at my baseline of being well and was cusping on burnout—I walked out. I left the classroom. I left that student, as well as all the other students who were in shock that he had just said this to me...and more in shock that I was on the verge of tears.
Have you had a moment like this in your career? Where you just walked out of your classroom? Or perhaps you stayed and ended up in tears. Have you had days where, intentionally or not, your students hurt you? You’re not alone if you’ve ended up in tears—exhausted and weary—at some point in your career. This happens to too many educators, leaving them feeling embarrassed and angry and wanting to leave the profession.
Over this series of blog posts, I will share highlights from my book Self-Compassion for Educators
, which will provide you with the tools and practices to understand why we need to focus on educators if we want to see student well-being increase. Many of us know that self-care is an integral part of our well-being, but is it enough? And how can we care for ourselves when we may be barely functioning at school, in our classrooms, and sometimes even at home? Why are these conversations so meaningful right now?
Here we will examine the concepts of stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue as the main struggles for educators’ individual well-being. We will also realize that we are not alone in these challenges and there is a collective movement that needs to happen to care for us all.
To help you practice self-compassion, even in the moments when it's most challenging, I'm offering free exercises from my new book
These simple exercises are perfect for moments when you feel stressed or frustrated. They encourage mindful awareness and self-compassion, so you can navigate your most difficult moments without being overwhelmed by them. Click here to download your free resource today!
To learn more about the importance of self-compassion and get another free exercise from my book, I hope you'll read my next blog: The Necessity of Self-Compassion for Every Educator