November can be a difficult month for educators, both new and veteran. With the rain, gray skies, and driving to work and home in the dark, it is extremely important to focus on personal wellness this time of year. But what to do?
There are many ways educators can develop their resilience and grow their ability to be the best they can be for themselves and for our kids.
One area of focus is around personal well-being. Exercise, get good sleep, eat right, get sun whenever possible--all of these will allow you to be your healthiest, best self. Remember that taking the time to build in personal well-being habits will support your productivity when working. You can’t pour from an empty cup!
It’s also important to develop your emotional well-being. One way is to find and surround yourself with people who lift you up and help you grow. Jennifer Gonzalez calls those people “Marigolds.” Find your marigolds!
One place to find Marigolds is at first-year teacher meetings, called Mentor Mondays. Once a month, first-year teachers come together to work through problems of practice, get just-in-time PD, and reflect on how things are going. Having a group of educators who can relate builds your emotional well-being.
Another way to build emotional resilience is to establish a positive notes journal or positive note routine. In the book Onward, Elena Aguilar writes about building resiliency as educators. Teaching is tough work. As the days get shorter, consider focusing on the "bright spots" in your day.
- As you drive home, reflect on a bright spot that happened that day.
- Write a bright spot on a post-it (but not while driving). Put the post-it on your mirror. Put another on your dashboard. Put one on your classroom computer monitor.
- When you have tough thoughts, shift to thinking about a bright spot.
- Consider keeping a journal or log of daily bright spots.
- Ask friends and family about their bright spots and share yours.
If you have done all these things and still find yourself in need of support, there are other resources available to support you, including the Cigna Life Assistance Program.
Be well, embrace November, and reach out to your supports.