Happy Teacher Revolution, Week 2

Welcome back to Week 2 of Happy Teacher Revolution book study! I'm so glad you're here. If you're new, head over to Week 1 to give some context to our book study. And if you have not yet grabbed your copy of the reading plan bookmark,  be sure to download it today. 

Having been in the classroom for 37 years, the pressures and demands on teachers have only increased, especially after coming back from Covid.  Chapter 3, Feeling Competent focuses on psychological well-being, burnout, and how to manage with mindfulness. Mindfulness has become such a buzz word these days and may conjure some feelings of woo woo or elicit some eye rolling. In 2020 during distance learning,  both the Calm and Headspace apps were free for educators. Calm is a meditation, sleep, and relaxation app. Headspace is an app that offers guided meditations and mindfulness exercises. Start small and practice a mindful moment each day. If you're anything like me, my mind is always racing 100 mph. I used to pride myself in my multi-tasking skills. Truthfully, I wasn't doing anything well. 
Focus on the present task at hand. I find it helpful to keep a small notepad or post-its nearby so I can jot a quick note if I need to remember something, rather than jump up to do the task then forget what I was supposed to be doing! Kids also need practice with settling their minds and just "being".  Once a week,  my class practices yoga and at the beginning of the year, savasana (corpse pose) is pure torture! It is so hard for them to lay still without fidgeting or talking. (It's hard for adults, too!) But by the end of the year, the majority of students look forward to savasana because their bodies and minds are forced into stillness and it's one of the few times they allow themselves to rest and just be. 

Productivity and busyness are considered signs of success. Another radical idea is to do LESS.  What?!
Drop Something
Overextending ourselves will certainly lead to burnout. It's okay to say no. It's okay to advocate for your needs. At one point, I was in three book clubs, I led my life group (Bible study) weekly for over 10 years, was president of the local chapter of an international educators' society and I was caring for my elderly parents. I was unfocused and frazzled, I felt drained, rather than fulfilled. For a season, I stepped down from my leadership roles and dropped out of one of my bookclubs, even though all those activities were truly things I enjoyed. I needed to focus on myself.  Prioritizing what was most important created time and head space.

A fun bonus in Happy Teacher Revolution are the mandala coloring pages throughout the book. According to Special Art Books, "It lifts your true spirits and brings out the child inside you. In addition, mandala coloring provides relaxation: repetitive movements while coloring mandalas require us to put aside other thoughts." I've also created a coloring page of bookmarks to help you stay present. There's something therapeutic about coloring! Click on the image below or HERE  to download your copy. 
Self-affirmations are powerful and build confidence. Give yourself a pep talk about how awesome you are! Many teachers have full-length mirrors in their classroom, with positive affirmations as a border: I am strong, I am worthy, I am smart! I love this video of one of my former students when she was 4. She was confident and enthusiastic then and is a successful and positive late 20-something now! Our words have power!

Erika Stern (in video 3.3) gives three helpful hints to prioritize your well-being and set helpful boundaries.
  1. Set boundaries
  2. Take a break: eat with colleagues, eat outside, don't work during lunch or recess! (I know; easier said than done but at least try this a couple times a week)
  3. Do something that brings you JOY 
  4. Find joy IN school: play games, laugh with students, meditate, plan experiences
For more ideas, check out this series on Joyful Learning

Dance. Sing. Create.
While developing a routine is beneficial to building competence, it's also easy to feel stuck in a rut. We often limit ourselves to our jobs or how we label ourselves. Chapter 4 examines our identity as "teacher". I love that Danna argues that "'teacher' fits the original and historical definition of 'influencer'." (p. 43) Try to incorporate something new into your life: dance, sing, create!  Determined to discover who I am outside the classroom, I've been stepping outside my comfort zone. I started taking ceramics classes. It is is so much fun to work with my hands and I can understand why children like to squeeze, mold, roll, and pinch the clay. It is also VERY humbling to learn something new! I had visions of what my pottery would look like but alas, my intention was very different than the actual products; LOL. Wheel throwing is actually much harder than it looks... and when I finally learned to center my clay on the wheel, I would accidentally knock into it with my knuckle or when I was satisfied with my bowl, I took it off the wheel and the bottom of my bowl stayed on the wheel! 👇 Glazing was much more difficult than anticipated also. After my piece would come out of the kiln, it didn't look how I imagined it would. As I said, very humbling. . .  I was a living example of needing a growth mindset so I would share my weekly pottery experiences with my students. They'd ask how my class was going and encouraged me to keep trying! LOL!
I'm also not naturally athletic so I tend to avoid sports and I hate traditional gyms until I discovered core bungee class! You're attached into a harness with bungee cords, which hangs from the ceiling.  Similar to aerobics class (a lá 1980s), there are routines including jumps, "flying", and even burpees are fun on a bungee! I've never laughed so hard, while getting my cardio in. Bungee classes are the highlight of my week!
Plan Rest
Several years ago, I discovered Tricia Hersey and The Nap Ministry. I have always been very dismissive of napping and usually go at full speed. As I felt the need to do less, the title Nap Ministry and tag line, "rest as resistance" caught my eye. This Rest Deck has 50 powerful rest practices on cards that help you embrace rest as a form of radical communal care and personal liberation. The artwork is gorgeous and taking the time to sit still and read just one card is a form of self-care. The instructions or reflections are simple, yet powerful.
As Taylor Gonzales (video 4.1) reminds us "We are human beings, not human doings."  Be intentional and take time to rest this week! Share your strategies for self-actualization and opportunities for embodiment!

Join us next Wednesday, July 3rd for Week 3:  (p. 51-70; 19 pages)
  • Chapter 5: Engaging in Self-Care with Students 1
  • Chapter 6: Establishing Boundaries 1
  • Part II: Reflecting/Integrating 


  1. Akimi SpEd Teacher, CAJune 26, 2024 at 11:00 AM

    This book is a really easy read with valuable insights on how reframe self-care. I am only on Chapter 3 but enjoying it.

    My favorite quote so far is:
    “Helped are those who love others on split from their faults; to them will be given clarity of vision.”
    -Alice Walker, The Temple of My Familiar.

    This quote from the book reminds me of my some of my “teacher” friends who support me and it reminds fills me with gratitude:
    “I remind myself to remember that I don’t always see myself clearly. When I get discouraged, I gather up my squad, express, my insecurities, and ask for encouragement. They never failed to give it, and I never failed to gain new confidence in myself.”
    -Molly, ESOL Educator, Maryland

  2. Love those quotes you chose! It's true we don't always see ourselves clearly. That's when it's so important to have our tribe; to encourage and uplift each other, as well as call each other out if necessary. Be sure to print the mandala bookmarks :)