Editorial
17 August 2020

High School 101: Teacher’s Basic 3-Step Self-Care

Education is never an easy task. Grooming the next generation to take over can be daunting particularly for new teachers. From creating lesson plans, to organizing students and managing parents’ expectations, a teacher thrives in multitasking.

But with the daily struggles in the classroom, teachers must take time to nurture themselves and practice self-care. 

In the event a teacher’s self-care is neglected some possible outcomes include fatigue (teacher is perpetually tired), stress (unable to cope with workload, feelings of frustration), and irritability (easily angered, may lash out at students).

However, with the right frame of mind and a positive outlook on their tasks ahead, teachers can enjoy their classroom experience. Remember, a happy teacher equals a happy class.

To better help teachers – both new and experienced, we came up with a list. Welcome to High School 101: A Teacher’s Basic 3-Step Self-Care guide.

 

STEP 1: Write Down the Things That Bring You Joy and Focus on Them

 

This may seem like a typical goal-setting exercise, but it isn’t. Every teacher starts with a passion for educating the young ones. The motivation for teaching youngsters comes from deep within your heart. Start small by writing a daily journal, detailing little things that bring you joy. 

Write down your reasons for becoming a teacher – the pure vision of wisdom you intended to impart to the kids out there.

Much like daily meditation, focusing on your goals for a good part of your morning routine gives a positive outlook to take on the day’s challenges. It is a good exercise to realign your mindset to take on the challenges of the day.

STEP 2: Set Healthy Boundaries

As teachers, we tend to be lenient to the teenagers we interact with every day. Our tendency to say ‘yes’ to them may put additional, unnecessary stress on us. As accommodating all the students’ requests is impossible, we should set healthy boundaries. Do yourself a favour and start saying ‘No’. 

Saying ‘No’ creates a safe space for both teacher and student to be themselves. Setting boundaries for students enables a teacher-student relationship that is mature and understanding. 

For example, if a student asks for a “pity bonus point” or “markah kesian” of 1 point just to get a higher grade, many teachers will oblige. But this may not bode well for the student’s future expectations and has a greater effect on the teacher as students may keep asking for that additional points.

 

STEP 3: Call For Backup via Close Communication with Parents

Support is essential in self-care. What better way to get the support you need than with the help of the students’ parents? Theoretically, parents spend more time with their children than teachers do and know more about their kids that teachers do. Most experienced teachers understand that the best way to control teenagers is through their parents.

Particularly in Asian culture, children (generally) are respectful and honour their parents’ advice. We can use this to our advantage. Call for valuable “backup” via social media and instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp. Communicate openly and sincerely with parents on their child’s behaviours on a daily basis to keep them in check. 

Some teachers may create WhatsApp groups with parents of every student in the class to update on important announcements, class updates, and more. Keeping contact with parents also fosters the human emotions and interactions that help parents to care for the teachers as much as they do their children.