The Importance of Teachers’ Self Care | ASSET-Edu Partnering with Teach of America Colorado
Field Notes from ASSET’s partnership with Teach For America Colorado
We put students first by putting teachers first. It took several years of teaching before I fully appreciated the logic and legitimacy of that line. In a world where a teacher’s job description looks like a balancing act between educator, social worker, nurse, and administrator, taking time to prioritize self-care is extremely important.
Childhood psychologist Haim Ginott wrote:
“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”
Mr. Ginott, I couldn’t agree more! The more I teach, the more I realize the “climate” in the classroom starts with me. This is why ASSET is so excited to be partnering with Teach For America Colorado. From the onset of this partnership, TFA Co has prioritized their teachers; they have stressed the importance of helping teachers develop a personal practice in mindfulness and positive psychology.
Working with a diverse group of TFA Co teachers only strengthened our belief and understanding that in order to put students first, we must put teachers’ mental health first. In our work with TFA Co we’ve seen firsthand how a teacher who takes time for self-care only improves as an educator. From their ability to create a more calming classroom climate to their capacity to manage misbehavior when it arises, teachers who strategically develop a schedule for when and how they will prioritize their own mental wellness are better able to serve their students.
About the Author
Brent Modak followed the example set by his grandfather and entered the classroom first as a middle school teacher before moving up to teach high school history. As a member of the ASSET team, Brent helped develop the curriculum and led in the implementation of the program across all of ASSET’s partner schools. When not teaching Brent enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife and newborn baby, Lewis.