We are consistently advocating for the mental health needs of our students. We attempt to be as supportive as possible to the complex lived experiences of our students and to acknowledge that they have full lives outside of our course/program. That’s not to diminish the value of the learning experiences we are providing but to develop self care skills in our learners now that they can carry with them into their work as educators.
We’re also often met with resistance. “You can’t just call in sick over a break up when you’re an employed teacher.” But, the thing is, you can. And you should if that’s what you need to get yourself together. This burnout culture is unhealthy and we all perpetuate it in one way or another. Glorifying busy. Shaming absence. Self care isn’t always convenient or well scheduled. Sometimes it must be addressed regardless of other obligations.
Which leads me to question why or how we came to dismiss the traumas invoked or perpetuated at school. Why do we persist the myth that “middle school is the worst” instead of implementing the many evidence-based practices (intentional social skills curriculum, active preventative teaching, for example) with consistency and fidelity. Middle school does not HAVE to be “the worst” – we allow it to be.
Tropes like “mean girls” persist because we allow them to persist. Intervene. Teach. Relentlessly. Kids need our guidance in learning how to navigate the world – socially, online, in all spaces. We must take responsibility for teaching.
If kids are experiencing trauma at school or their trauma is exacerbated at school, that is on us. If we believe in self care for ourselves, we must model it and teach it to our learners. Self care is for everyone.