Modeling Self-Compassion

Patty McLain
Many educators feel like they have to prioritize the needs of their students over their own needs, but this can easily lead to overwhelm and burnout and it sends a (powerful unintentional) message to students. Thankfully, we can choose to send a different message by showing up for ourselves, practicing self-compassion and showing students that it is also okay for them to take care of themselves.  

In this ever-changing landscape full of stressors, it can be easy to forget to give ourselves the same kindness and compassion that we give others, but these tips can help us put ourselves first while still taking care of our students and other responsibilities. 
1. Be sure to start the day with a morning routine that prioritizes you.
 Even if you only start with 3-5 minutes, make sure you get to work or to class a little earlier so you can check in with yourself, take some deep breaths, and feel more prepared.

2. Model self-compassion for your students.
Do a think-aloud to show your students what it looks like to take a critical or judgmental thought about yourself and turn it around.

3. Write it down.
Journaling can be a great way to give yourself some space and it is also something you can encourage your students to do. You can just do a brain dump, you can make a gratitude list, or you can write about how you would approach the situation if a friend was struggling (to see how you would treat them differently than you ‘re treating yourself).

4. Take a break. 
 Show students what it looks like to acknowledge a limitation in a healthy way. Encourage short breaks, take them yourself, and return to the task or situation when you are finished.

More than anything, remember that modeling matters and that students are often paying more attention to what we are doing and how we are showing up than they are to what we are saying or teaching. 

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