How to Put Yourself First as a Teacher before Your Students
Put yourself first before your students
Did you clutch your pearls at this statement? For many people, putting yourself first is certainly a wholesome advice. On the other hand, it seems like a completely scandalous statement for teachers. If you teach kindergarten math for instance, it may seem incomprehensible to put yourself first before your kindergarteners.
However, it’s necessary and we’ll show you why in a bit. So, grab some scented candles, run a bath, and let’s explore why and how you should put yourself first as a teacher.
Why You Should Put Yourself First
Whether you work for a Brighterly-style platform or you’re an in-person teacher, there are tons of reasons why you need to put yourself first. However, it’s important to clarify that putting yourself first doesn’t mean constantly putting your needs above every other thing. It simply means taking several steps back, breathing in, and acknowledging your needs.
Having clarified that, let’s take a closer look at why you need to do this:
To Prevent Burnout
Here’s the thing: you can’t pour out of an empty kettle. If you’re burned out, you’ll be unable to teach your students with the level of zeal, compassion, and patience they deserve.
According to the data from the world’s largest teacher burnout survey, up to 65% of respondents showed signs of burnout. As you read this, there’s a huge chance that you’re probably feeling burned out too.
By putting yourself first and relaxing instead of working extra unpaid hours, you can lower the risks of burnout or mitigate the effects (if you’re already feeling burned out). This would help you continue to deliver lessons effectively and still take care of your personal life.
To Protect Your Mental Health
Whilst often neglected or overlooked, mental health struggles are real. For every teacher, it’s important to protect and take care of their mental health.
Picture this scenario: a school (your employer) sets targets and places pressure on you. Your students look up to you for guidance. You also have to deal with the internal pressure that comes with having so many responsibilities on your shoulders.
In scenarios like this, your mental health might be on the brink of collapse. All you need is an extra smidgen of pressure and you’d go off the edge.
By putting yourself first, you can ease this pressure and protect your mental health.
How to Put Yourself First Before Your Students
Enough with the whys; it’s time to delve into the hows. How can you put yourself first as a teacher? If you’re eager to learn, here are a few easy tips worth considering:
Learn to Say No
We get it. Saying no to people can be pretty hard, especially if you’re a bit of a people pleaser. Trying to shake off the guilt that often follows is certainly no mean feat. However, you’re not helping anyone if you’re constantly tired, antsy, or overworked.
Therefore, learn to say no to unnecessary tasks that would only put extra pressure on you. You don’t need to be a team leader on every single committee in the school. If you don’t do it, someone else can easily pick up the slack.
The more “nos” you dish out, the more time you’d have to focus on yourself and your students.
Invest in Yourself
It’s not enough to pour out of yourself and into your students. You also need to pour some knowledge into yourself. But how can you do this?
For starters, you may consider joining a teacher’s club. It could be a club where teachers exchange teaching ideas, tips, and strategies for improving their skills. It could also be a support club of sorts. Whatever the case may be, surround yourself with like-minded people who can offer all the support and encouragement you need.
However, investing in oneself isn’t just limited to acquiring knowledge. It could also mean running a warm bath, splurging on a new dress or book. All that matters is that you take some time out to shower yourself with extra love and care. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to take care of your students.
Live in the Moment
A teacher may easily let precious moments slip by since you’re always planning ahead. You’d find yourself making plans and preparing for future events even when you’re supposed to be doing something else.
So, pause. Take a breather. When you’re at school, focus on teaching, making lesson plans, and whatnot. When you’re at home, focus on your personal life and needs. This way, you’d be able to experience each and every moment for yourself.
Sure, this isn’t always easy to pull off. There would be moments when you just can’t help yourself. However, once in a while, remember to press the pause button and truly live in the moment.
Putting yourself first is certainly no easy thing to do when you’re a teacher. Every handbook, guideline, and rule book asks you to put students first and put yourself last.
However, to protect your mental health and prevent burnout, it’s essential that you unwind regularly and invest in self-care. Find a support group of teachers or like-minded individuals to help, support, and encourage you.
And remember: it’s completely okay to say no now and then. Does it feel selfish? Sure. But is this form of self-care necessary? Absolutely!
We hope these tips help. Good luck!