This week I headed back to the classroom for the 2018-2019 school year. Juggling my teaching career with my writing career and with See Jane Write is hard, very hard. In fact, it’s so hard that sometimes I thinking of giving it all up. I think of ending See Jane Write — the blog and the business— and I even think of no longer accepting freelance writing assignments. I often feel I would be a happier person and a better teacher if I focused on teaching and teaching alone. But now I know this isn’t true at all.
Earlier this year when I preparing to speak at TEDxBirmingham my coworkers at school were very supportive. They even gave me a gift basket filled with snacks, notebooks, and office supplies! But one of my colleagues gave me an invaluable gift without even realizing it. One of my colleagues, after learning about my TED talk, my writing career, and See Jane Write said to me “It’s always good to have something that reminds you who you are outside of this place.”
That’s when it hit me: writing is my form of teacher self-care.
I’ve been thinking a lot about teacher self-care lately. This summer I attended the Teacher Self-Care conference and it was life-changing. It was so empowering to be surrounded by people telling me that my well-being matters just as much as my students’. This conference, which also included several sessions designed to help teachers take their careers to the next level, also reminded me how much power I have inside me to make a difference.
Related Reading: She Who Writes Teaches
Sarah Forst of The Designer Teacher led a session at the Teacher Self-Care Conference on both self-care for activists and the idea that activism can be a form of self-care. If you’re someone who cares deeply about social issues you sometimes need a break, an escape. On the other hand, you also know you need to do something about the things that are wrong in the world. And doing so can be a form of self-care as it can prevent you from feeling hopeless and helpless.
Writing is both my self-care and my activism. Getting lost in words is for me a perfect escape. Writing is something I do not just for the byline or the money but because I just can’t help myself. But writing (and empowering other women to write) is also my form of feminist activism because I believe that by changing one life at a time, one story at a time, storytellers can change the world.
The organizers of the Teacher Self-Care Conference are challenging teachers to commit to and show how they’ll practice self-care this year and the challenge will culminate in a Day of Self-Care on October 10.
Here’s how I plan to practice self-care this school year:
- I will write every day, whether it’s one line, one page, or an entire essay.
- I will exercise six days a week. A healthy teacher is a happy teacher.
- I will practice yoga at least once a week.
- I will allow myself to take a day off. Each week I will set aside one day during which I won’t work on See Jane Write or do any schoolwork.
- I will keep empowering the women and girls around me to write, to live lives worth writing about, and to be the authors of their own lives.
How will you practice self-care?