Back to School for Teachers

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August 24, 2022
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September 7, 2022

Back to School for Teachers

Even for the teacher, returning to school brings excitement and anxiety, new routines and relationships. What are some ways to maintain resilience when you are the person doing the teaching? I have worked as a therapist and a workshop presenter, not a long-term teacher. Before writing this post, I reached out to some teacher friends for their insight. Their answers fell into three categories:  

Having a Sense of Mission

“Noticing student’s progress, realizing you have an important part to play in students learning.”

How do you maintain your larger sense of purpose as a teacher? What you do is so important and yet you may never know the impact you have.  My high school English teacher wrote this in my yearbook “Laura, you are one of the brightest students I have ever taught – and the most exasperating!“ 

One of my regrets is that I never went back to update him about the long-term impact he had on my life. Without the skills that I learned in his class I would have never finished college, or graduate school, or this blog post. Not only did he insist that I get stuff done, he made it perfectly clear that I had ability. I wonder whose life you impacted in a way that you may never know. There is faith in teaching – that the lessons taught, both academic and life, will bear fruit in time. 

Personal Connections

“Connecting with students and colleagues. Smiles, nods, laughter, sharing ideas. Enjoying time with students.”

Community and connection strengthen resilience for everyone. We live in an era full of tension and heightened emotion. It can become habitual to scan for disagreement and conflict. If you find you have developed this negative bias, it can be helpful to deliberately look for those positive connections. The person who says “hi”, the student who murmurs “thanks”, the colleague with the corny jokes.  

Small rituals – chocolate chip muffins on Friday – build community in ways that make a difference. Sharing a gratitude practice with peers or students can allow everyone to reflect on what connects them together. How do you build and maintain personal connections with colleagues and students? 

Taking Time to Care for Yourself

“Prayer, sewing, singing, drawing and writing… Gardening and meeting with friends.”

It always comes back to self, doesn’t it? You are a teacher, which is an incredibly important and valuable profession. You are also you.  Take care of the basic basics: sleep, eat healthy foods, drink water, exercise. Make time for all the things which bring you joy allows you to relax and to be fully yourself. 

People in helping professions sometimes have a collection of friends who need them. While it is wonderful that you support and mentor others it is vital that you have friends who bring you joy. When do you spend time with people who build you up? If your friendships tend to be a string of people in crisis who move on when they no longer need you, it is time to do some boundary tending. Who joins you to have fun? 

As a teacher you are an incredibly important person. As you begin this new school year I wish you a year of safety, learning and growth. For so many students, you will be the person who makes a difference in their lives. 


Laura A. Gaines

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