Happy Teacher Revolution, Week 1

I always love summer for the slow- down pace and time to put myself “back together”: haircut, time to workout consistently, cook healthy meals (& sit down to eat!), dentist, ophthalmologist, doctor appointments, time to read my TBR pile and hang out with friends, supposedly time to clean my house 🤷🏻‍♀️😂 But why is life put on hold until school breaks? Last summer, after my 36th year of teaching, I was burnt out and unmotivated. I did nothing school-related. So I was intrigued by the title of Danna Thomas' book,  Happy Teacher Revolution: The Educator’s Roadmap to Claiming & Sustaining Joy.
First, some logistics: There are QR codes with helpful and thought-provoking teacher interviews throughout the book that link to a Wiley website. Note: it looks like a page to order the book and all QR codes lead to the same web page. Scroll down to "Downloads" and click on the drop down arrow. From there, click on "Play Videos".  It will take you to a page with one large video on the left then three smaller video thumbnails on the right. All videos are on that web page; scroll down past the third video to find the rest labeled by chapter and video number. I hope this helps to clarify; I kept scanning the QR codes and did not immediately see where to watch the videos.

Click on the image below or HERE to download a copy of the reading schedule. Print it out to use as a bookmark! My recap and reflections will be published each Wednesday.  I'd love to hear about your experiences and commentary! This is the perfect book for summer reading and mentally preparing to go back to school fresh & ready in the fall! 
Welcome to Week 1 of our summer book study! This week focused on pages 1-28:
  • Part I: Investing in Yourself
  • Chapter 1: Tending to Your Basic Needs
  • Chapter 2: Cultivating Belonging
Those of us who have been in the classroom or working with children for any length of time know how stressful teacher workload, district and parent expectations, and student engagement (or absence of) can be. In response to the lack of preparedness and the lack of ongoing support for the social-emotional demands of teaching, educator Danna Thomas organized a grassroots network to support the mental health and well-being of teachers called the Happy Teacher Revolution .  This book is a guide for educators hoping to restore your passion and your why.
We hear the term "self-care" and immediately think of getting a massage, manicure & pedicure, or taking a bubble bath. While satisfying, they are temporary and don't address the issues that led to feeling stressed. Define your own version of self-care and "choose practices and behaviors that help you to feel competent, creative, awake, and full of life." (p. 7)  We often think of adding things to our lives: mindfulness, yoga, taking a walk. However, teacher Anleeta Eaton-Buchanan says to "do the math"; subtract any negative or harmful influences in your life to support your well-being.
Pay attention to the signals your body is sending you.  Plan ahead to prep nutritious meals. Click HERE for tried & true healthy breakfasts. Get enough sleep and use your sick days when needed.  Teachers are guilty of not feeling well, yet not wanting to stay home and write sub plans. Guilty!  I love how Danna argues that "there is no such thing as work-life balance, but. . . work-life integration." Mike Anderson (author of The Well-Balanced Teacher) also emphasizes the importance of managing stress and meeting our most basic needs. Read more HERE

However, those basic needs such as food, shelter, and water are not enough.  While Maslow puts love and belonging in the middle of his hierarchy of needs,  belonging should be located closer to the base of the pyramid.  "Researchers suggest that lacking human connection carries a risk that is comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day." (p. 22) 
We spend hours building community within our classrooms with students; read more HERE.  Yet many teachers often close their door and teach in isolation. Building relationships with colleagues and having other adult social interactions is crucial for teacher well-being. Read HERE for many ideas. Eat lunch in the faculty lunchroom, find your teacher tribe.  Dr. Neesha Daulat suggests,  "Have a space where people can get together and talk to each other. Get out of your classroom or space where you spend most of your day and instead get together in a space to talk to each other."   Our school has redecorated the staff lunchroom several times to be a beautiful, relaxing space. Many of our teachers choose to spend our lunch period in the lunchroom, at least a few days per week. We also plan happy hours,  hikes, and other outings. Visitors to our campus have commented that the rapport and camaraderie between staff is evident; we like being together. 
 Our lunchroom 💜
To cultivate belonging, Thomas suggests asking yourself three questions at the beginning of each day:
  1. How can I be healthy?
  2. How can I be connected?
  3. How can I be purposeful?
Bring your true self into the community that you're in. Social media has set such high and unrealistic expectations for what teachers and classrooms should be like and look like. Don't be afraid to ask for help and encouragement. "Real teachers" are always happy to support each other. Build your teacher community!

Next week, we are reading :
  • Week 2: June 26 (p. 29-50; 21 pages)
    • Chapter 3: Feeling Competent
    • Chapter 4: Reaching Beyond Everyday Life
I'd love to hear what you do to invest in yourself! Share your comments below!

No comments

Post a Comment