3 Teacher Tips For Emotional Resilience and Energy in The Classroom
It'll be no surprise to anyone working in education to hear that the number of teachers who called the ESP helpline has increased by more than a third in just a year.
The Educational Support Partnership said that between April 2017 and March 2018 over three thousand teachers contacted its helpline. Many just need the initial call for guidance and others use it on a regular basis for continual emotional support and advice.
With endless hours in the classroom and an unrelenting mountain of paperwork out of it, the life of a teacher today is enough to send anyone to breaking point.
A service like ESP is, therefore, an invaluable aid to teachers — despite only a tiny fraction making use of it. However, a helpline is limited in how much it can help, and although it means investing yet more time in the job, teachers need to take it upon themselves to learn about how they can bolster their emotional resilience and safeguard their long-term health.
With just a few minutes of care a day, teachers can ensure they don't deplete their energy and emotional reserves and that they're always performing at their best — whether inside or outside the classroom.
1. Be your own best friend
It sounds incredibly self-indulgent but it's actually the complete opposite. Showing yourself some love is the best thing you can do for your students and everyone else around you. What's best is that it doesn't even have to involve reciting affirmations in the mirror or hugging yourself; it can be as simple as taking five minutes in the morning or evening to do some journaling. Sitting in a place free from distractions and with a hot drink, write down five things you're grateful for and five things you like/love about yourself. The idea is to approach the exercise as if you were talking about your closest friend — because you are.
2. Find a different perspective
No matter where you are or what you're doing, you can always find something bad to say about a situation. It's the more skilled and wise among that are the ones who take even the worst case scenario and manage to turn it into a walk in the park. But how do they do it? Is it just a mere trick of the mind? Well, no. Firstly, they don't identify with situations as much and therefore feel no need to take them personally. Secondly, they keep a broad and expansive perspective, rather than a narrow and constrained one. This way, they don't get caught up in the storms and ever-changing weather and always keep one eye on the bigger picture.
Sounds easy, but it's much easier said than done and it certainly doesn't come without practice.
Meditation and mindfulness are becoming increasingly popular in schools and workplaces for this reason. As it's all about getting rid of judgments and broadening your perspective, it can be many things to many people — if you haven't yet given it a try, now may be your time.
3. Find the space between emotion & reaction
When all is said and done, we always have the power to choose how we react to situations. And when working around the clock and at the limits of your stress levels, it's that space between a thought and the action that follows it that can make all the difference.
For most people, it only takes one miniscule thought for a whole cascade of self-destructive behaviours to ensue. This behaviour is usually a way to dull or at the very least avoid having to deal with initial thought or feeling. However, if instead of diving straight into action we sat with the initial discomfort, we would see there's actually nothing we need to run away from. For this to really work, you need to not just sit with the emotion but accept it and allow yourself to feel it deeply. Emotions are not destinations but processes, and so when we indulge them instead of pushing them into the background, they begin to transform and deliver us into a new state of being.
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