Teachers, it starts with you!
It all starts with you. Yep, you. I’m talking to you. Although many of us could have probably told the researchers the outcome of their many studies, research has shown that among school-related factors teachers matter most when it comes to student performance, even more than services, facilities or leadership.
So that’s what the research has shown; it’s unclear if this will change how the teaching profession is perceived. It’s unclear if that will change our educational system. It’s unclear if that will mean a higher salary or better support. It’s unclear if this finding will open up wider conversations about our nation’s future and how education can be and should be the way we ensure our nation’s forward progress. It’s unclear if the people who need to hear the results of this research have even read the findings.
But what is clear is that if we wait for someone else to begin changing the system that we all work within, we could be waiting a long time. It’s very possible that we could go down with this sinking ship.
So clearly the bad news is that the public education system in the United States is struggling in many ways, but the good news is that we can impact more change in our students than any kind of legislation, program or service. Although it may not seem like it, we actually have substantial influence and real power. And if there’s any group of people who know what their students need, it’s you!
But here’s the catch, as the most impactful factor in student performance, we also have the biggest responsibility. We have to bring our best selves to our classrooms every day. More than a creative lesson, more than the best technology, more than interactive standardized test review games, we need to be our best: body, mind and spirit.
Just as we model good writing and solving math problems, playing musical instruments and conducting experiments, we must also model self-care and appropriate stress management. We must model how to say no to obligations that don’t fit our schedules. We must model how to balance our personal and work lives. We must model how to deal with our frustrations and disappointments in healthy ways. This modeling doesn’t need to be explicitly shown, but will be implicitly felt each time you stand in front of your students: a caring, present, consistent adult who can provide each of them with a stable, challenging, caring environment where they can not just survive your class but also thrive beyond expectation. This is so possible. It all really starts with you…
With all of the focus on teacher stress impacting student learning, why don’t we start flipping the equation and focus on how our health and well-being can equally impact student learning. Hopefully there will be more studies and research done on that too!
Let’s not wait any longer for a mandate from the top-down to change. We have the green light to be the agent of change for our future. Let’s not wait any longer for someone else to encourage us to be our best selves in the classroom. Let’s support each other as we discover what this looks like. Our schools will feel different when we do this. Our classrooms will look different when we do this. We will be different when we do this.
It all starts with you…are you ready?
If you are looking for an easy way to begin a daily wellness routine that will surely benefit your health and well-being, please click here to check out Teaching Well’s 20 Minute to Wellness Routine. We look forward to supporting you as you continue your journey to teaching well!