According to an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) poll released in 2017 - 61% of teachers find work “always” or “often” stressful. This is twice more stressful than workers in the general public.
Teachers are the most selfless people I know. We are so consumed with the mandates of our job and the needs of our students that we put our own needs last. This can have dire effects on our health and well-being, as well as on our families.
This is what happened to me.
After working as a public school teacher for over 14 years, I started visiting my doctor monthly because of health problems caused by the demands of being a teacher. I suffered from insomnia, exhaustion, anxiety, mood swings, and loss of appetite, which are all caused by stress, depression, and high blood pressure. My doctor told me that if something did not change, “This job is going to kill you.”
This was back in 2015. However, I could not stop being overly involved in my work as a teacher. I didn’t know how to put myself first. I didn’t know the steps I needed in order to make a change. I felt guilty if I walked away from the ungraded papers or told parents that there was a limit to the help that I could provide their child, and because of this I paid the ultimate price. I lost my family.
Teachers are hurting! The needs of our job are so great that we forget about our needs and many times we are too exhausted to attend to the needs of our families.
A year later, after experiencing more severe health problems and losing my family, I was finally able to start the process to save my life. I was finally able to start the process to prioritize my life. I was finally able to start the process to separate being a teacher from being a mom and a regular citizen, and I was still able to be an effective teacher!
The reality is we cannot put students first if we don’t put ourselves first. Taking care of teachers (ourselves) helps us to take care of students and our families. The only one who can make this change is us.
Teacher Care Now was created to help teachers avoid what I went through. Teacher Care Now was created to share tips and resources to help teachers better take care of themselves so that they are better able to care for our students and our families.
There are many in the general public who do not understand this. We live in a culture where teachers are expected to put students above themselves. We live in a culture where teachers are expected to go above and beyond every day for students. We live in a culture where if teachers talk about their needs they are seen as unprofessional, selfish, or insensitive to student needs. However, we are the best teachers that this country has and we want to be the best teachers for our students. People are not running to the field of education, but are running away from it, which is causing even more work and stress on us. The silver lining in all of this is that teachers are standing together in unity and we are being heard. However, when it comes to our health, wellness, and families, our fight must be personal. We must put ourselves first. When we put ourselves first, we are mentally, physically, and emotionally better equipped to handle the needs of our students and our families.
Our students and families deserve nothing but our best. We owe it to ourselves to give them that, and it starts with -Teacher Care Now!