Teaching can be a difficult job. You have to work with kids and sort out their myriad educational and social issues, teach lessons, grade papers, deal with the pressure from administrators and parents, then come home and prepare for the next day’s class work. Teaching is more of a calling than a job, and most teachers get very emotionally invested in their work and their students.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Students remember teachers who are engaged and care about their academic and home lives. But it’s also important to take care of yourself. And that’s where Happy Teacher Revolution comes in.
This teacher support group helps educators develop self-care strategies that will help them avoid burnout and be able to cope with their daily life.
“We can’t be there in our fullest capacity to teach kids if we’re not in our fullest capacity ourselves,” said Danna Thomas, a kindergarten teacher in Baltimore who founded Happy Teacher Revolution. “No matter how strong your lesson is…it could all be perfect, but I personally cannot deliver a lesson to the best of my ability if I don’t get a full night’s rest, if I don’t eat on my lunch break.”
Ultimately, happy teachers lead to happy students. As an increasing number of schools are focusing on social-emotional learning for their students, teachers need to be on top of their game with their own social-emotional competencies—particularly stress management and ability to regulate emotions—so they can model that behavior for their students.
“The primary way children learn social-emotional skills is through being exposed to adult behavior,” said Patricia Jennings, an associate professor of education at the University of Virginia. “If a teacher doesn’t have a level of social-emotional competence to model the kinds of behaviors that he or she is hoping students adopt, then he or she is sending mixed messages.”
Happy Teacher Revolution is designed to help teachers develop those competencies as well as other self-care strategies. It is a network of teachers that serves as a support system for teachers who are struggling with the shame, guilt, and difficulties of balancing a highly demanding profession with their own sense of self and happiness, as the Project’s website says.
Happy Teacher Revolution focuses on helping teachers achieve equilibrium and happiness despite the demands of their profession. Their chief tool is the 12 choices:
- I choose to be happy.
- I choose to disconnect and detach with love.
- I choose to be mindful.
- I choose to make time for sleep.
- I choose to get outside and get moving.
- I choose to be grateful.
- I choose what to overlook.
- I choose the battles worth fighting.
- I choose what to do next time and what to stop doing.
- I choose to enjoy the relationships that matter.
- I choose to schedule and prioritize what really matters.
- No matter how the school year started, I choose to finish well.
The emotional support and self-management skills offered through Happy Teacher Revolution could help teachers stay in the profession by reducing burnout.
“Self-care is not selfish. That’s something I have to remind teachers because so often we put ourselves last,” said Thomas.
Always remember the airline safety lecture lesson: Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting other passengers. Whether it comes in the form of counseling, massage therapy, joining other teachers to create groups based on the Happy Teacher Revolution principles, or anything else, it’s crucial that you practice self-care; it will make every part of your life better.