Many teachers are several months into the new school year. As we move through the 2022-23 school year, what will you focus on in your classroom to decrease stress levels?Continue reading
I want to introduce you to one of my closest friends, Kim Hruba. Kim is an author, book coach, speaker, and mom to five children. She often writes about her family’s adventures on her weekly blog published Saturdays on the Wannaskan Almanac site.
She recently posted a blog that so fantastically illustrates the 4 C’s – Create Your Calm, Co-regulate, Connect and Change, that I immediately asked if I could share it with the Wildewood Learning readers. In her post, she shows how to use the 4 C’s when her daughter felt anxious and nervous about the upcoming piano festival.
I created a video explaining the 4 C’s for this month’s post and sharing Kim’s post to demonstrate how the 4 C’s would work in real life. I would suggest you watch the video and then read Kim’s post to see if you can identify the 4 C’s in action.
After learning about the strategy and reading about how a parent used the process, I would love to know about your 4 C’s experience.
If you want to know more about the upcoming classes in 2022 for Strength-Based Resilience, click here!
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Even when I know better, I don’t always do better.
How about you?
I know I need to exercise more – however, it’s a struggle to get to the gym or out for a walk.
I know that I need at least 7 hours of sleep to feel my best – yet I stay up watching Netflix.
I know that yelling doesn’t solve any problems – and I find myself yelling at my family.
I know better, but am I doing better?
How about you?
I believe that many educators thought schools would be back to normal by now. At the beginning of the fall 2021 school year, I heard educators say,
“2021 has to be better than 2020!”
“We can now get on with fixing the learning loss of the past school year.”
“Let’s just move on from 2020 and put it in the past.”
Many people were hoping for school to be “back to normal,” yet that has not been the case; 2021 has been a challenging year.
When teachers talk about the last 18 months, words such as sadness, blah, and isolation are shared. Many are looking for support in the form of community, conversation, and connection.
Not just teachers are feeling the effects of the pandemic so are all the school support staff. Bus drivers, custodians, kitchen staff, school nurses, social workers, substitute teachers, and paraprofessionals are feeling the stress and exhaustion of the lingering Covid-19 pandemic. Plus, there is a lack of people to fill the numerous open positions in many districts.
The effects of the pandemic are undermining the mental health of our children. American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Hospital Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry posted a statement in October declaring a national emergency of a mental health crisis among children.
Behaviors never seen before in school classrooms are cropping up. Intense conflict levels, screen addiction, increase in substance use, disengagement, and lack of motivation are just a few of the behaviors educators have experienced. School leaders ask parents and caregivers, who are also at the end of their rope, to help with their child’s behaviors.
Self-care and mental health has never been so important to school leaders, educators, and support staff as it is now. What is going on now with teachers will not be taken care of by a couple of mental health days during the school year.
Self-care professional development is on the rise for educators, and rightfully so. When the school’s system and culture set self-care as a priority, it can help the staff develop routines for improved well-being.
I will not share my top 10 tips for self-care or tell you to get a massage or take a bubble bath. However, that does sound good! Self-care, well-being, and mental health practices are a habit that you set for yourself. What might work for one person as self-care might not work for another.
However, there are a few areas that by setting a routine it can help you make considerable gains in feeling better:
- Good nutrition
- Setting boundaries
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, quotes, “In the long run, the quality of our lives depends on the quality of our habits.” He suggests starting with a tiny change. Maybe it’s setting a time of the day to exercise. Every day you exercise at that same time, maybe for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or you just get your shoes on. When you start, the length of time isn’t the goal, and the goal is consistency. You then become a person that doesn’t miss time to exercise, and a habit starts to form.
Many years ago, I set my morning routine to meditate and journal. I do it almost every day, sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes for an hour. I have now become a person that meditates and journals in the morning, and I rarely miss a day. When I do miss a day, it just doesn’t feel right.
You are a person worthy of self-care, no matter what shape or form it may take for you. As an educator that honors self-care, you can do your work, change kids’ lives, and have time for yourself. Just develop the habit by starting small. Your students, colleagues, and family will thank you for it!
Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Many of the wisdom traditions use a version of the Golden Rule. This rule or guideline stresses compassion.
I think back to when I was a child growing up in the ’70s and ’80s and the problems I felt were in my life. The issues of friendships, where to go to eat on a Saturday night (Pizza Hut, of course), and what to do when I felt there was nothing to do. I usually didn’t know about a party until after the fact. If my friends decided to go to the movies and I wasn’t home to pick up the phone, my friends left me to find my own entertainment.
It’s different today for the younger generation. Teens today have instant notifications, instant invitations, or instant connections, all through the little device in their hands. Yet is it really what they want or need? There are reports of young people feeling disconnected and lonely among the ability to connect instantly.
Even though my teen years are so much different from my children’s, I can still have compassion for this generation’s young people because of an essential shared human experience. The needs of belonging, connection, and to matter are a few of the needs I can relate to, even though I am an “old” person.
I have worked in the area of social and emotional learning for over 16 years. Over those years, I have learned that building a connection with a caring, capable, and compassionate adult is essential in a young person’s life – an adult who will listen and make a serious attempt to understand.
Compassion is created from three components – awareness of suffering, action to relieve suffering, and recognizing a shared human experience. I see a young person sitting on the sideline watching while others play a game. I go over the talk to the young person, strike up a conversation and find out she doesn’t know the game’s rules. Then I take the time to explain the rules and then ask her to play. That is an act of compassion.
The Search Institute, a research organization in Minneapolis, has a list of 40 positive supports and strengths a young person needs to succeed. One area is support: care from family, other adults, community members, and school staff. When a young person feels supported by the adults around him/her, there is a decrease in high-risk behaviors. Simple ways to connect with youth can happen in your community. YOU can play a part in the solution!
Here are ten ways you can increase your compassion and connect with a child or teen.
- Take an interest in an activity a teen you know is involved in by attending the activity or asking questions of the teen. Then listen.
- Ask a child what they are interested in doing. What are her passions? What sparks his interests? Then listen.
- Play a game of pick-up basketball with a group of kids for fun.
- Invite kids on the sidelines to participate in a game.
- Give an authentic and specific compliment to a child. An example could be, “Wow, I admire how you organized the books on the shelf.”
- Do a random act of kindness for a teen.
- Ask, “What are your dreams?” Then listen.
- Accept a child for who he or she is, a unique individual in this world.
- Make sure making mistakes is “okay” for both kids and adults.
- Breathe deeply before saying something that could harm a child.
If you take action on even some of these ten simple activities, you will build compassion in yourself and the other person over time. These actions will not solve the complex problem of loneliness, violence, or inequities in our world; however, it is a start.
Welcome to 2021!! A new year and a new set of possibilities before us. However, before you jump into the new year’s setting goals, resolutions, or intentions, I invite you to take some time to look back to the past year.
The past year has been a roller coaster ride of a year. I look back and see many downs and few ups throughout the year. How about you? Do you see any bright spots? Glimmers of positivity and hope?
In this month’s video, I talk about why it’s so easy for humans to see the negative and how you have to train your brain to see the positives. It’s all about practicing to look for the bright spots.
I would like to hear about the bright spots in your past year. Please leave a comment under the video and tell me about your bright spots for 2020.
I wish you much happiness and health in 2021!
This time of year can come with a variety of emotions. I am sure many emotions have popped up over the last few weeks for you in some way. As a former science teacher, the study of the brain and the connection to resilience is fascinating. When we are dealing with our emotions it’s important to know why and how our brains are reacting to that emotion.
In the video, The Learning Brain v.s. The Survival Brain, Dr. Jacob Ham explains how stress can affect learning for our students. We need to create safe environments in the classroom that assists children in learning. One of the ways we can do that is through using tools that you can teach to your students that will calm the brain down.
In my recent video, I demonstrate five tools you can use with your student to help them feel safe and access their learning brain.
I thought today would be the appropriate day to talk about fear and anxiety.
Sometimes fun and fear can go together like today! Halloween is the annual time of the year when spooky costumes and scary movies can be fun!
However, when you are truly dealing with fears and anxieties, there is nothing fun about it.
We all have fears and anxiety. It’s part of all human experience.
Big Fears and little fears. Realistic and imagined fears.
I invite you to practice the skills presented in today’s video to move through fear and anxiety.
Then pass these skills on to the children in your life.
Why do I feel so tired and exhausted?
The answer might surprise you, or maybe not.
In the video this week I talk about an article I read called, “Your “Surge Capacity” is Depleted, It’s Why You Feel Awful”. The article really explained why you might feel so blah!
Creating a resilience bank account is a way to take care of yourself and the others around you.
Here are a few suggestions to get you going,
I love it when I receive questions from followers. Last week I had a really big question from a follower,
How do you help adults overcome
childhood trauma and toxic stress?
Wow! Big question! This is too big of a question to cover in a ten-minute video or even in a blog post. However, I can give you a few tools to start on a path that will decrease your toxic stress response and increase your self- regulation. Once your nervous system is regulated, tapping into your strengths to build up your resilience is key.
You can build your self-awareness toolbox as an adult and tap into those tools when stress enters your life.
This is a journey where each new tool you use and practice can help you along your path of resilience.
Strength-Based Resilience is a four-part course for educators, parents, and caregivers. A new session starts on September 9, 2020.
More information about the course can be found here.
Much has happened over the last few weeks that my head is spinning. Maybe you can relate:
My daughter came home from college for spring break. One week has turned into staying at home for the rest of the semester. Classes are now online for her.
My high school-age sons were off school starting March 17. Now the eight days off of school have turned into distance learning until May 4.
My son, who is a senior, reacted poorly to the news that the last months of his senior year would be without the daily interaction of friends. The loss and grief of potentially not having a prom or graduation ceremony are real.
I work from home. Most of my weekdays are spent with my dog and alone in the house. I have the occasional Zoom meeting or phone call, but mostly just quiet. However, that has not been the case for the last two weeks and it seems like it will not be the case for the next two months or more.
I want you to know that I understand. I hear you. I feel the anxiety and pain with you. The struggle is real.
Yet, I say to myself daily, “This to shall pass.” I breathe and I go outside into nature.
The video I am sharing with you is one that I made ten days ago. I felt it was important to share with you during this challenging time.
Nature has the power to heal and here are a few reasons why the power of nature can help you and your student or children through the challenges in life.