George Lucas Educational Foundation

How do teachers restore themselves?

How do teachers restore themselves?

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As much as I am concerned with the social and emotional well being of our students, I am also concerned with the health of teachers. It's just about mid-summer and I hope all you teachers have been able to feel a lighter and brighter than usual. Please share with me how you restore yourself in the summer and even more importantly, during the school year. There is nothing more overly stimulating than teaching and I frequently feel drained when the day is done. I am hoping to collect responses to put on my new blog: I also think this can be an excellent ongoing forum to help throughout the year! Reading, writing, and running is what is pepping me up now.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Ray Mathis's picture
Ray Mathis
Retired Health Ed Teacher certified in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

I have just the thing for you Amy. Rather than go on about the "tools" in a post here, I'd like to invite you to visit

The beauty of this approach is that it helps you get into the best possible mental and emotional place to be the best teacher you can be, while also reducing your stress, and helping you make less mistakes with students, especially the most troubled and troublesome ones. If you teach these "tools" to your students, it can vaccinate them mental and emotionally against all manner of mental health, health and social problems, and make your job easier and more rewarding. And, the more you teach these "tools" to them, the better you'll get at using them in your own life.

I also have some narrated power points posted on YouTube. My channel is "itsjustanevent" and the titles are "Mental and Emotional Fitness" parts 1-13

There are a lot of ways to temporarily feel better. Some are healthy, many are not. But there's only one way to GET better (reduce your overall frequency, intensity and duration of feelings like anger, anxiety, depression, shame, etc) and that's to change the way you THINK about things. That's what the "tools" help you do.

Brown's picture
Special Ed

I had an extensive discussion with my coworkers about reflection. I explained that we as teachers should be a positive figure in our students' eyes. One of the teachers was shaking her head as if she disagrees. This week that same teacher, told she had a change of heart, and I asked her why. She told me that her daughter's preschool teacher moved last week. Her daughter cried all week and that weekend. Her daughter asked her who would be her new teacher and will she help her read the big words in her book. The little girl has a speech impairment. Know she refuses to read at school and home. Her daughter was only in that class for three months. My coworker said seeing her daughter hurt like that over a teacher that she has only known for a short while was moving. The teacher assigning the students a get to know you essay. She wanted to know more about them and not just their names. I commented to her that she was a true reflecting teacher now.


Bobbie K.'s picture
Bobbie K.
middle school teacher

Exercise and adequate amounts of sleep are key! Another key element is taking time to network with colleagues. It seems that I can get so much more accomplished, and be a lot more positive in the classroom when those three key elements are in place.

Tahlia Newland's picture
Tahlia Newland
Teacher at Kiama High School In NSW Australia

I'm with Nicole on this one. Meditation does the trick. Reading a feel good novel works too.

Kristine's picture
Teacher at Roosevelt UFSD

What I do to relax is plenty of reading and taking "staycations" at the beach, my husband is a lifeguard during the summers!" Listening to music and watching cartoons. Yes I said cartoons! To me watching cartoons helps me to relive being a young girl and enjoying life as a child.

stephanie's picture

It is good to hear some of the responses. This is my first time posting, and I am trying to redirect my own energy.

Over the summer, I read The Happiness Project. There were many sections of the book which were meaningful, but one phrase stuck out to me. Not sure if I agreed with the theory or not, but I thought it was worth a shot. In her book, the author researched "venting". Did it really help? After extensive research, she could not find any proof that venting when frustrated actually helped the person venting or those around the person. So, I thought I would give it a shot. Instead of venting, I try to meditate - not being a person good at self reflection and meditation - this was a big stretch or redirect my thoughts. For now, I seem to be more energized. Who knows if it will last, but it is working for now:)

Jim Heister's picture
Jim Heister
High School Math Teacher, American International School-Riyadh

There are many ways that my wife and I recharge over summer/winter/spring break, long weekends, and sometimes even regular weekends. During the school year, leaving everything work related at work for the weekend is usually the easiest. Yes, the first time you do it you feel a bit guilty and it is this guilt that keeps you from doing it too often. Long weekends are a great time to go for an overnight trip somewhere. Doesn't have to be over the top, as a matter of fact the best is to go stay at a friends house or with a really close relative, ours happens to be my in-laws place believe it or not. HA! Over longer breaks, it is great to just relax and not think about the current or past year but maybe plan for the next...especially over the summer. These breaks are also a great time to go to conferences to get fresh ideas on new techniques to try in your classroom or new bits of technology to play with or even a new book to read. Any way to keep it all fresh and new in your mind is a great way to recharge yourself and keep yourself away from the burn out.

Hanaa El-Ansary's picture

I read professional articles and blogs such as these to mentally prep myself for tough scenarios. At the end of the day, I put my feet up, meditate, and watch some comedy shows on TV.

jjd005's picture
K-3 Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Special Education Teacher

I have recently started running and I cannot believe I have not been doing this longer! I have never regretted a run! It helps me to clear my head and keep things in perspective!

Additionally, I believe in self-affirmation. Finding the self-affirmation that works for you, can help you find the peace you are looking for after a hard day teaching! What are you favorite self-affirmations?

Lauren Casella's picture
Lauren Casella
Professor, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles

Thank you for bring up this important topic of adult resiliency and teacher emotional health. Before a discussion about an SEL program for students, a great administrative team will focus efforts on coaching and supportive the overall health of the faculty and staff. Healthy adults serve as role models for healthy kids. How do teachers manage stress, setbacks, annoyances, schedule changes? Students watch and learn. Thank you for providing restorative tips for teachers.

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