[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on May 2nd of this year, was our #7 most popular story of the year. Happy holidays, and thank you for tuning into our 2019 countdown!]

Teachers are very giving people. I read an article the other day that said educators have the most unpaid overtime of any job in the world. And it’s true: We get here at 6:30 in the morning, and most of us leave at 6:30 in the evening. We give so much of ourselves to our students.

Everything we do in schools is aimed at benefitting students, but honestly, if teachers can’t be their best selves, be healthy, and practice self-care, then we can’t expect them to be the best teachers they can be. As we move into the stressful period before testing and the end of the year, I always tell them to remember the safety demonstration that flight attendants do on airplanes: If something goes wrong, you put your own oxygen mask on first, and then put it on your children.

4 ways to boost teacher self-care

1. Word of the Year

At the beginning of the year, we took our teachers through a process of picking one word that they wanted to focus on throughout the year. A lot of teachers choose “balance.” My word was “enjoy,” because I feel like I’m always jumping around 90 miles an hour and living six months ahead, and I really do want to slow down and just be present in the moment more.

About the Author:

Tracey Smith is the principal at Brookwood Elementary School in Forsyth County, Georgia. Follow her on Twitter @tbsmith01.

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