Supporting Educators’ Well-Being

Just before heading off to winter break, the BARR network came together to focus on supporting educators’ well-being in the December Professional Learning Community. During the event, all were invited to hear from passionate Educator, TED Talk Speaker, and Doane University Adjunct Professor Sydney Jensen. 

With more than 2.6 million views during Jensen’s TED Talk, she answered the important question “How can we support the emotional well-being of our teachers?” Jensen continued this conversation with the BARR network. She acknowledged the challenges educators are continually faced with as they support students, in addition to nurturing their own well-being.

“The real struggle with teaching is that often it feels like we can never do enough to help our students, and that is a really heavy burden to bear,” Jensen said. 

In the past few years, educators have been tasked like never before with navigating personal and professional trauma. Jensen shared how the past several years has made “hard work even harder.” Teachers and administrators have been managing their own trauma while also facing secondary trauma by helping students with their unimaginable challenges.

“We are not immune to the effects of trauma. Our resilience as a community of educators is vital if we are going to make a way forward that is more equitable, intentional, and sustainable,” Jensen punctuated.

Several strategies were shared to support educators as they are facing this trauma. A few of these strategies included creating a safe space for teachers to share their stories, developing plans for stress management and practicing mindfulness techniques. 

In order to move past the challenges of the past few years, Jensen mentions the first step towards progress is both acknowledging how hard the past few years have been, but then also leveraging lessons learned to maximize positivity. 

“True wellness is hard work,” Jensen said.  

It takes dedication, time and work to achieve true wellness. During the event, educators were encouraged to create working agreements and wellness creeds to establish commitments to themselves and to their school community. Each of these creeds had goals to intentionally prioritize commitments to relationships, routine, empowerment, gratitude, and growth. 

“The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago, but the second best time to plant a tree is today,” Jensen said. “Even if this isn’t something that you’ve been committed to and working towards in years, this is something we can start today to hopefully make a difference for ourselves and our students.”

The event served as a valuable opportunity for educators to practice focused reflection and positive goal-setting to kick off the new year with intentional plans to take care of themselves, to best support each of their students.