An Open Letter to Educators: Self Care Isn’t Selfish

Lesson planning. Teaching in-person students. Teaching remote students. Gathering lessons, making packets, and recording videos for students on quarantine. Laminating, grading, using your own money for supplies for your classroom. Whole group instruction, small group instruction, individual instruction. Intervention groups. Family communication- email, notes home, whatever app your district decided to use this year. And then there’s the meetings- faculty meetings, team meetings, PLC meetings, committee meetings, MTSS meetings, ARD meetings, parent conferences… The list is neverending. And you wonder why you are always tired.

Yet, you don’t have time for hobbies. You don’t have time for fun. You don’t have time for exercise. When you do finally lay your head down at night, your head is spinning with all the things you need to do the next day- and maybe you’re worried about this student, or that student, or many students. 

Amazing educator- we see you. You are doing the work that even those of us who have been in the classroom cannot even imagine. Education was a tough job before COVID- consider the addition of protocols, masks, endless cleaning and sanitizing, on top of the actual planning and delivery of in-person, remote, or hybrid instruction and all most of us can say is “wow.” That, and “thank you.”

As you give your all- and then some- to our kids, please remember to take some time for yourself. One of my favorite quotes of late is “self care isn’t selfish.” Whether self care for you means curling up with a good book, gardening in your backyard, or going on a long run- do it. If it means that students don’t get a perfectly edited video lesson or they have to wait one extra day to get an assignment back, so be it. If it means, as a parent, you don’t return my SeeSaw message until the next morning- I’m happy to wait. You cannot fill others’ cups (especially 22+ of them) if yours is empty. So, take a moment- heck, take a lot of them- and focus on yourself. And while you’re at it, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are in a school where parents have the means to contribute, ask us for lysol wipes, and hand sanitizer (and anything else, for that matter!) so you don’t have to spend your own money. Ask for volunteers to cut laminating, help organize packets, etc- who knows, you might even have a parent who can edit video lessons! 

You are doing superhero work- even more heroic that it was two years ago given the circumstances- and we are grateful. So go take that yoga class. Have that glass of wine. Laugh until you cry- or if you feel like it, have a good cry. Hang out with your family and friends Saturday morning instead of going to spend time in your classroom (I know how precious those uninterrupted hours are- but they can wait). That pile of papers on your desk? It will still be there on Monday. But with a cup that is refilled, it might not seem as daunting.

Here is a great resource from Mental Health First Aid if you are looking for additional self-care ideas.

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Jamie Downey

Jamie Downey

Jamie Downey has over 18 years of expertise working with students and teachers in the field of education. After spending 10 years in public education as a dual language elementary teacher and campus and district administrator, Jamie entered the world of Marketing and EdTech. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature, a Master of Education specializing in Educational Administration, and is ABD in the process towards her EdD, all from The University of Texas at Austin. Jamie is passionate about serving the underserved and ensuring that all students have access to quality instruction and services, regardless of their zip code or special needs. As such, she is proud to serve eLuma Online Therapy as VP of Marketing. In her spare time, Jamie enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and running.