Teachers, most of you need to make some changes. It can be scary but this change is worth it. You need to change and become more selfish. (I can already picture the gasps from non-teachers thinking, “How dare you?”) There are many reasons why teachers should be more selfish. Three of the most urgent reasons why teachers should be more selfish are:
- To save and improve your own health
- To save the profession
- To move your students towards independence
According to a 2015 AFT study, 78% of teachers are physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of each day. This is unacceptable but at least curable. I wouldn’t wait on politicians to come swoop in and make this problem go away. Take charge of your own well-being and don’t you dare feel bad about it for one second. You have a family and life outside of school that wants the real you, not just the crabby, exhausted version that 78% of families of teachers are seeing.
How to start today
Teachers can get started taking better care of themselves today by developing a morning routine, meditating (Use Calm or Headspace on your phone), getting on an exercise plan, eating healthy, going for a walk, going to see a good movie, listening to music, spending more time on your hobbies and passions and maybe even make some money with it. No one is going to come and take you by the hand to do this. Schedule it into your day, plan for it. Do this right now! You might need to get up earlier in the morning and go to bed earlier to find this time but it is worth it. Do this for YOU! Be selfish. You deserve it and so do your family and friends.
It has become fairly common knowledge that a lot of teachers are leaving the profession and fewer college students are choosing teaching as a profession. There is no good end-game scenario if this problem continues at its current rate.
A solution to so many teachers leaving the profession is: those teachers who are still around need to be more selfish.
Teachers need to cut down on the items on your plates. The education system and the country cannot afford to keep throwing away decades worth of experienced teachers each year and expect our country to keep up with other countries.
Teachers should minimize your energy-draining commitments and reduce your stress levels as much as possible both for your own sake and for the well being of the educational system that they are such an integral part of.
Another reason that teachers must become more selfish is so your students become responsible. Regardless of the age of the student the more responsibility they are able to take on the better. Protecting kids from failure is not preparing them for later in life. Better for them to –gasp--fail and learn then never had the opportunity to grow in school.
If Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Benjamin Franklin, Michael Jordan, and so many other successful people can fail, then so can your students and they deserve to be allowed to do so.
Teachers can engineer this transfer of responsibility by being open and honest with your students about the critical role of failure in life. Teachers will spend far less time preventing students from failing and dealing with the consequences-the “my kid got an F?” phone call.
Shifting the responsibility for grades and behavior to your students will not just be what is best for your students but will take a HUGE load off of your shoulders and give you back the energy to do the rest of your job more effectively and give your family, friends and yourself the time and energy they deserve.
So teachers, what’s stopping you from taking back your lives and being selfish today?
Mark Eichenlaub is an educator who is passionate about quality of life for teachers. He runs the website Prosperous Teachers. He tweets as @CoachEichenlaub
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