An interesting discussion emerged in the course of our staff meeting yesterday. Although I cannot recall what precipitated the talk, the gist of the conversation related to a recognition that we teachers are all of us caring moms, dads, siblings, and/or children (of senior parents) who lead full, and sometimes challenging lives outside of our school, and that, at times, the events from our personal lives come together to elicit anxieties, fatigue, sorrow, or other strong emotions.
How do we manage these emotional challenges and yet go on to give our best effort towards guiding and supporting students each day? We acknowledge that our students should not be made to feel the burden of our potentially negative affects (in the same way that our families should not feel the impact of a difficult day at school). How can we draw a line between our two worlds?
The answer may lie in separating or distinguishing not between worlds, but rather, between individual moments. Live in the moment.
Living in the moment, or mindfulness is a simple concept, but some may find it initially difficult to apply. With repeated practice, one learns to become aware of what is going on as it occurs, focusing on immediate thoughts and actions. The practice allows you to block out all other worries, and to just think about what requires your attention within a distinct period of time: now.
Take a deep breath. Engage in the present. Be mindful of what is being asked of you. If a student looks to you, asking, “How do I read this word?” respond to him/her with all of your attention. Keep eyes, ears and thoughts focused on a thought-full reply.
What practices do you turn to when you find your worlds begin to seep into each other?
Thérèse McNamara is a school administrator, special education resource teacher and mother. In her 30+ years as an educator, she has worked as a classroom teacher, computer/curriculum consultant, and education officer. She holds a Masters of Education degree with a focus on Literacy and has taught additional qualification courses for 3 universities. She has reviewed and written a number of professional learning resources and supports the application of evidence-based, best practices to support all students.