Spring is an exceptionally busy time for teachers because of assessments, progress reports, and conferences. Along with those items I also have an overnight field trip and spring event planning on my to-do list right now. If I think about it all at once I will find myself completely overwhelmed. Simultaneously, the sunshine is bursting through our classroom windows and students are feeling it. They need to move more because they're so excited and they should be. Nature is blooming and teeming with possibilities!
Taking care of ourselves is one of the most important things we can do this spring to make sure our students get the best version of us everyday. Teachers need to remember to actually breathe in that spring air right now. Dwayne Reed is a 5th grade teacher from Chicago who recently wrote a brave and eye-opening essay titled "I'm A First Year Teacher And I'm Burned out". Mr. Reed highlights the lack of discussion around mental health and resources available to support the educator's mind, body, and soul. He notes the inherent cognitive pressure of the classroom teacher's communicative responsibilities. "What about just dealing with the day-to-day stress that comes from natural human interaction. Have you ever been in a room with 25 other people, in constant communication, for 8 straight hours? There’s going to be some stress!"
For teachers feeling the crunch, there are things we can do to support our health this spring. It's a time to get outside with our classes, dig in the dirt, and plant something. Nature grounds and educates us in ways teachers don't need to plan for. There is beauty, math, science, and language right outside our classroom doors. If you are in a city, take a walk to the park or sit outside the school building to read and listen. Having a few plants in the classroom helps with grounding and slowing down as well. I have four classroom plants and when students are finished work early they know that "plant care" is an option for something to do with idle time. One day I turned my students attention to our plants and said, "Plant care...what could that mean for students in our class?" They came up with ways to engage with plants to support mindful behaviors. My students mist the plants with a water bottle, polish the leaves with tissues or q-tips and meditate with the plants. It's amazing!
Last but not least, don't forget about spring cleaning! This is one of my favorite things to do with my class. Decluttering removes old negative energy floating around your space. Items too! Clean out those desks and cubbies. Take photos of the students' work, post it on their Bloomz Student Timeline and recycle the paper. Students love to scrub chairs, sweep floors, and wipe windows! Get them moving and clear out the atmosphere in your classroom. When you're all done, open a window and do some breathing exercises with your students to help calm yourself and cleanse the energy in the room.
As teachers we put students needs at the forefront of our work. We spend our days encouraging others to find their passions in life. In this process we sometimes deprive ourselves of our needs and wants. Let's stop doing that and find a way to feed our desire to educate while taking good care of ourselves. Michelle Chalfant, speaker, therapist, and author, has a podcast called "The Adult Chair". The latest episode is titled "It's All About Me!". Now I know this is hard for teachers to say or even think. Give it a listen if you are looking for ways to connect with your body and mind as this school year intensifies with the spring semester. I hope you find it helpful and possibly transformative.
What can you ask your class parents for help with this spring? How can you nurture your mind and body in the process? Is there a creative way you can utilize Bloomz technology to cleanse your classroom? Please leave your comments in the section below.