I am enough of a realist to understand that I can’t reach every child, but I am more of an optimist to get up every morning and try.
Maybe you see them safely to and from school each day.
Maybe you’re with them in the classroom. Or the lunchroom. Or daycare. Or evening care.
Maybe you’re with them on the field, in the studio, on the court, in the troop, at the rink, or in the pool.
Maybe you see them at their best. Or when they’re struggling the most.
But, whether you see them daily, weekly, seasonally, or yearly…
You work with students.
And that makes you part of a rapidly-growing, hard-working, ever-adapting club.
And (ready or not)…
A new school year is upon us.
Read on for the final installment in our Back to School series…
3 commitments for those who work with students:
Reconnect to your ‘why’
The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion.
Scan any list of professions with high risk of “burnout” and you’ll notice that many of them have students in common.
(Yeah. We didn’t think so.)
It’s not the students’ fault that working with them can be so draining. In fact, a lot of the emotional toll we experience from our work has to do with factors within our control. (More on that below…)
Rather, the many aspects surrounding our work with students often account for much of the overwhelm we feel:
Their social supports.
It makes sense that working with students can feel exhausting. It’s pretty exhausting to be a student.
Work towards seeing those strong feelings you feel at work as a window into your students’ experience.
And in the meantime, why not kick off a new school year with a little exercise to help you reconnect to why you got into this business in the first place?
- Take 10 minutes to go for a walk (or pull out a pen and paper, or simply sit quietly…) and reflect on these question:
- What drew me to this work in the first place?
- What has kept me going so far?
- What do I want the students I work with to remember about me?
Recognize the limits of your role
When you feel yourself becoming angry, resentful, or exhausted, pay attention to where you haven’t set a healthy boundary.
Chances are, your decision to work with students wasn’t driven by a desire for fame and glory.
Or short hours.
(Or, let’s face it, even basic appreciation.)
No, those of us who work with students tend to be motivated by something intrinsic that makes us want to give of our time and energy.
It’s a beautiful, valuable quality to have.
But, if we’re not careful to maintain healthy boundaries, all that giving can actually prevent us from doing the best job we can.
- Complete these sentences:
- In my role as a _________, I work with students.
- Some of the most valuable contributions I make in my work with students are: _________________, ___________________, and __________________.
- At the same time, however, I recognize that there are limits to the role I play in my work with students.
- Students are healthiest when they’re supported by a variety of caring adults in different roles. The people with whom I share responsibility for my students’ well-being include their parents/caregivers, their _______________, their _____________, and their ______________.
- One specific way I can enlist the help of others in my work with students is by __________________________.
- I know and trust that I am best able to play my own role in my work with students when I allow others to uphold their own roles. When I do this, it’s good for my students and it’s good for me.
Live what you teach
It’s not easy taking your own advice…
April Mae Monterrosa
You probably spend more time than you realize giving really good advice.
And why shouldn’t you? You spent enough time studying and training to give it!
But, here’s where many of us miss the mark a bit:
We don’t follow our own really good advice.
We sing the praises of self-care… yet our calendars reveal we “don’t have time” for it ourselves.
We preach focus and self-discipline… yet we fall prey to constant distractions.
We promote curiosity and learning… yet we allow ourselves to stick to what’s familiar and comfortable.
What would happen if your own habits were aligned with the habits you’re instilling in the students with whom you work? How would your life feel? How would your work feel?
- Ask yourself:
- What advice/guidance do I find myself giving most often in my work with students?
- Am I following this advice/guidance in my own life? Why or why not?
- What changes do I need to make in order to bring my own thoughts/behaviors into alignment with what I’m asking of my students?
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Do you work with students? Could you use some extra support?