Tips for Self-Care While Working in a Tough Urban School

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

   Teaching in a working poor/impoverished neighborhood has its unique challenges. Kids come to school hungry, irritable and not in the mood to learn on a daily basis. Sometimes it's the teacher's duty to play mommy, nurse, therapist, lawyer and chef. We want to do everything we can to help our kids but it can eventually take a toll on one's own mental and physical health. Teachers become used to getting pulled in all different directions and struggle with maintaining their own sense of well-being. As a teacher in an urban setting, I believe that it is highly important that teachers engage in some sort of self-care in order to protect their mental and physical health.

Here are a few tips that I developed to help teachers improve their lives after the dismissal bell rings:

  • Keep a journal.
  • Have a venting buddy (preferably outside of education so they can help you look at things more objectively.)
  • Stay physically active.
  • Take a day off if you need to (no harm in using those sick days!)
  • Don't try to fight every battle. You will HAVE to let some things go.
  • Try to not talk about the negative events that happened at school when you get home. It's okay to vent but don't make it a habit. 
  • Take long walks in your neighborhood without electronics (a dog can help!)
  • Indulge in meals and treats that you enjoy every once in a while.
  • Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water.
  • Always put things into perspective and know that many of the kids come from difficult homes and many times they are just repeating or reacting to what they see at home.
  • Remember that if you work in an urban school you will notice that you may be in a better place  financially, socially, and emotionally. This doesn't mean to look down on them but remember to have compassion. 
  • Cry! it's okay to let it out!
  • Make sure you have room for laughter as well. Laughing about the silly things the kids do and did is so much more rewarding.
  • Listen to calming or energetic music to get your day started.
  • Don't lose hope and don't sweat it! You are an amazing teacher and if you teach in an urban school, you're working harder than most. Not everyone is built for this life but you made it another day. 
Happy Teaching!

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