E 12: How to Avoid Educator Burnout: Nourishing Teacher Well-Being Through Mindful Practice (with Lisa Baylis)

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There’s a way for you to avoid educator burnout and my incredibly talented friend and guest has the perfect recipe for nourishing your soul. Get inspired to fill your cup first so that you have more to give. I hope you savour this episode and message of self-compassion as much as I did!

Lisa Baylis is a high school counsellor based in Victoria, Canada and a point person for positive education and mindfulness within the district. With a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology and over 10 years work experience provincially and internationally, Lisa practices and teaches concepts of positive psychology and mindfulness in her classroom and counselling sessions.

Outside of the school, she offers workshops that bring tools and strategies to parents and educators to help them create wellness habits for themselves first, and then their families and classrooms second, subsequently creating a culture of resiliency, self-regulation and awareness. Check out her blog lisabaylis.com for ideas on how to incorporate aspects of mindfulness, and positive education into your classroom and the new curriculum or connect with her through social media [@awakenwellbeingforeducators][1] For more information visit my website [smallactbigimpact.com][2] and search for episode # 12.

 

Frazzled Much? 5 Mindfulness Strategies you can use Starting Today!

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Frazzled much?

I don’t know about you, but this merry-go ‘round we’re all riding seems to have gone into overdrive and my fingers are desperately grasping to keep my hat firmly planted upon my head.

We all have a plethora of things to do.

  • Lunches to pack.
  • End-of-the-school-year presentations to watch.
  • Deadlines to meet.
  • Gardens to weed.
  • Miscommunications to rectify.
  • Social events to plan and attend.
  • House to clean.
  • Diplomatic report cards to compose.
  • Work dedications to meet.
  • Broken hearts to mend.
  • Networking.
  • Cars to maintain.
  • Emails to craft.
  • Exuberant exclamations inviting mirrored responses.
  • Phone calls to make.
  • Recycling to sort.
  • Hands and knees playtime.
  • Appointments to schedule.
  • Social media vacuum.
  • Crisis. Crisis. More crisis…stretching me into a spindly version of myself.

So, I find myself, desperate to create sacred space of respite, breathing room.

To create an untouchable sense of peace within my soul.

Ironically, while Social-Emotional Learning (which encourages teaching mindfulness practice) is at the forefront of our explicit classroom teaching, it’s common to see teachers overwhelmed, overworked, and super stressed. It’s ironic that the very thing we’re meant to be teaching our children and students to do, we’re not incorporating into our own lives. Wouldn’t we be more effective in teaching mindful practice if we practiced it regularly, ourselves?

But how? And when? How does mindfulness not get shoved to the bottom (or top) of our list as yet another line item to action?

So, within the goal of simplicity in mind, I’ve curated a small handful (because we all know overabundant choices breed paralysis and overwhelm) of my favourite mindfulness strategies. You can integrate them into you own life. You can encourage your students or children to do the same. It feels pretty good to press “pause” on this busy life of ours.

Some are super short in length and can be done while you’re waiting in the grocery line-up.

Some are delicious and more lengthy opportunities for reflection.

Here we go…

Mindfulness Strategy ONE:  5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Grounding Technique

This activity is about grounding yourself in the present by tapping into your 5 senses. Whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I find this strategy so useful, calming, and unassuming. No one even needs to know you’re doing it. And it really works to calm a racing mind. I first learned this strategy from the amazing Life-coach and Counsellor Julie Evans (check out her striking new website).

Here’s how you do it:

Start with a deep breath.

5 – LOOK: Look around for 5 things that you can see and name them.

4 – FEEL: Check into your body and think of 4 things that you can feel.

3 – LISTEN: Take a few seconds and allow yourself to listen for and identify 3 sounds.

2 – SMELL: Good, bad, and ugly…allow yourself to find two distinct smells that root you into the present. If it’s hard to do, move around or try and remember and name your two favourite smells.

1 – TASTE: Say one thing you can taste. It may be the toothpaste from brushing your teeth, or a mint from after lunch. If you can’t taste anything, then say your favorite thing to taste.

Take another deep belly breath to end.

Mindfulness Strategy Two: Text Three Good Things:

Thank you, Counsellor, Educator and Change-Maker, Lisa Baylis of AWE (Awaken the Wellbeing of Educators) for this incredible new strategy. We were recording an interview for my upcoming podcast (launching in September 2018) recently when she shared this ingenious strategy. This one is so simple and easy, and it came as a delightful new way to connect with friends, family, and colleagues while building my gratitude practice. Two birds, one stone, right?

Find a friend, colleague, or family member. Decide for 21-days (or as long as you can manage) to text one another three good things that happened at the end of each day. I love the accountability of this daily practice. The benefits are multi-fold: you connect with someone daily, you train your brain to search for the good in every day, and neuroscience has proven that the practice of gratitude in your life raises your overall happiness and wellbeing. Can’t argue with science!

Mindfulness Strategy Three: Meditative Counting

I learned this super easy and quick calming strategy through the Headspace App. It’s one of the first exercises one learns on his/her meditation journey and it’s the perfect ticket for training yourself to stay with your breath.

Start by sitting comfortably, eyes opened or closed.

Take note of your surroundings, becoming aware of the origin of your breath. Where do you feel the rising and falling? Without wanting to change the tempo of your breath, notice the shallowness or depth of your inhales and exhales.

When you feel ready, start counting each inhale up to a count of 10.

Then, start back at 0 again and count to 10 again.

Repeat this cycle 7-10 times until you feel calm and centred.

This sounds so easy, but it’s a trickier than it seems.

I’ve found that being disciplined enough to restart the count once I reach 10 keeps my mind from running away on me. In other words, the practice of staying with my breath and counting gives my brain a break from the laundry list of things to do.

I would highly recommend the Headspace App. Andy Puddicombe hosts a number of wonderful guided meditations on a variety of different themes including, Anxiety, Happiness, Performance, Gratitude, Motivation, Relationships and many more.

Mindfulness Strategy Four: Get Out in Nature

Just this morning, nature beckoned and invited us to delight in her wonders. While hydrating some of the neglected herbs on our deck, my little family noticed that a tiny salamander had made the watering can its home. My children shrieked with glee as the little guy ran across our deck and hopped into their splash pool, swimming a few laps nonchalantly as we looked on. We decided to spend the next half-hour making a comfortable home for him in our garden. We asked ourselves, what might he need to be safe, comfortable, and happy? We fashioned a tiny bathing pool for him under the protective foliage

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of our roses and perennials. My kids were tripping over themselves to create a sanctuary for our new friend. It was such a lovely reminder of the connection, inspiration, and replenishment that nature brings us.

So, take a walk, watch the birds, just sit with a cup of tea outside for a few minutes and soak it all up.

Mindfulness Strategy Five: Guided Gratitude Practice

This is a guided meditation or reflection that I recorded that takes about 3 minutes and fills you with a sense gratitude, purpose, and the ability to resolve inner conflict. Initially inspired by Tony Robbins, it’s a good way to start your day if you’re feeling a little disconnected from yourself and your purpose because of all of the ‘busy’ in your life.

I sincerely hope that you manage to find a moment of replenishment and soul nourishment today. You can’t give if your cup’s not full.

 

Much love,

Morgane

 

What is School For?

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What is school for?

In our current world filled with uncertainty, ubiquitous inundation of technology, and perceived political turmoil, many of us are feeling more and more disconnected from the very thing that has been scientifically proven to determine our overall sense of happiness: our connection to one another. Anxiety, loneliness, depression, and suicide rates continue to rise within our student populations across North America. On both macro and micro levels, it feels as though our country, many schools, teachers, parents, and students are all in crisis.FullSizeRender 10
As author, speaker, and marketing guru Seth Godin asserts, our contemporary industrial model of education has proven itself ineffective for preparing students for the uncertain future. Many of the jobs we once took for granted are being automated, and the advent of artificial intelligence underscores this point as we enter the futuristic age. So, it becomes more and more important for educators, parents, and educational leaders to ask themselves: What is school for?

I believe it all comes down to teaching two main skills: authentic kindness and resilience.

hearthandsWe need to prepare students with the prosocial (Social Emotional Learning) skills they require to connect to those around them, to tune into the needs of their real-time peers, and to use their understanding, compassion, kindness, to solve interesting problems that machines can’t. It’s about explicitly and carefully crafting classroom cultures of authentic belonging.

It is also imperative that we teach students to be resilient, challenge themselves, to withstand and grow (bounce forward) from adversity, and to see apparent failures as the answer to becoming successful. These are the skills it takes to make it in the Real World. Kids need to learn how to get comfortable with ‘failure.’

IMG_4271In the not-so-distant future, success will be in the hands of the imaginative entrepreneur who recognizes that it’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to fail, it’s ok to be vulnerable despite your seeming imperfection, and that it’s ok to be a work in progress. According to Warton School of Business Professor Dr. Adam Grant, most of young people, employers, and teachers appreciate that we need to be working more on developing life skills such as, confidence/motivation to tackle problems, interpersonal skills to work with others, and the resilience to stay on task when things fall apart, rather than primarily focusing on academic qualifications.

We all want this outcome, but how do we get there?

Many organizations and individuals in our schools and communities are working diligently, joyfully, and creatively not only to prepare teachers, students and their families for the future ahead, but to foster supportive community environments in which people feel seen and heard. Certain individuals work covertly and quietly within their classrooms, offices, and institutions, while others do so more publicly. Ultimately, however you seek to serve people, you’re a benefit and you’re adding value.

The 1Up Single Family Resource Centre in Victoria, for example, works hard to support single parents through parenting courses, education, mentorship, support for mental health and addiction, and I’ve seen their powerful work firsthand.

Lisa Baylis, Greater Victoria School District high-school counsellor and founder of AWEsome Wellbeing Educator Retreat, “offers workshops that bring tools and strategies to parents and educators to help them create wellness habits for themselves first, and then their families and classrooms second, subsequently creating a culture of resiliency, self-regulation and awareness.” Her work, which has been recognized in a number of important business and educational publications, contributes directly to cultivating kind, supportive cultures in schools.

inquiry_mindset_clearAuthors Trevor Mackenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt’s recent work in their amazon best-selling collaborative book Inquiry Mindset, provides an inspiring and actionable roadmap for teachers to adapt the concept of growth mindset, autonomy, personalized learning, and inquiry-based learning within any K-12 classroom. They encourage teachers to celebrate the process of learning, by showcasing the ‘messiness’ of growth through a variety of methods, to value a provoked sense of curiosity, and to enable students to allow themselves to be vulnerable knowing that everyone experiences challenges and perceived failures when trying to solve interesting problems.

The Small Act Big Impact 21-Day Kindness Challenge serves to promote and cultivate safe and supportive cultures, through which students, leaders, and teaching staff can gain a profound sense of belonging and significance.Neuroscientists have proven that when we receive kind acts, oxytocin (the belonging/love hormone) is released making us feel more connected to those around us. What’s surprising is that oxytocin is also released when the giver performs a kind deed and even when someone witnesses a nice gesture! So, through kindness, we can literally change our immediate work and school cultures, one act at a time. Let’s make it a habit.IMG_4273

The thing is, we can all contribute to kind and resilient cultures through our actions, whether we do so publicly or through the small things we do daily. Through those actions, who knows how far the ripples will spread and who we will inspire. We all stand to benefit from a stronger sense of connection to one another, right?

Together, let’s make a big impact, one small act at a time.

 

cropped-img_86602.png If you’re a teacher, keep your eyes peeled in September 2018 for Pro-D workshops designed to provide teachers with a roadmap for implementing the theories of the Small Act Big Impact 21-Day Challenge through hands-on research-based, actionable tips and lessons to be used within the classroom, community, and at the leadership level. Drop me a line, comment or email me to let me know if you’d be interested in booking a 1/2 day session at your school or for a conference. smallactbigimpact21days@gmail.com