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Self Care for Educators

“Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions - Unknown”

More than just sharing their knowledge, teachers also act as our second parents. Sometimes we fail to realize that teachers also have other roles in balancing their busy schedules, such as parents, children, friends, spouses, and many more. Just like all of us, teachers also need self-care practices to keep them from experiencing burnout.

This week on our self-care series, we are putting the spotlight on our educators. Educators Chariza Briones and Rev Tria-Siasoyco shared with us their self-care practices, what inspired them to be educators, and advice for future educators.

Please give us a background on what you do and what inspired you to be an educator.

Chariza: I am a Junior High School and a Senior High School teacher. I have been teaching since 2003. I am also a part-time college lecturer at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. My social studies teachers way back in elementary and high school inspired me to be an educator.

Anne: I started going to school when I was two years old. My mother, a pre-school teacher, tagged me along because we did not have a babysitter. During college graduation, I told myself, “Anything but teaching!” But our family was in bad financial shape then, so I thought I could teach while I helped with the bills and figured out what I wanted in life. But along the way, especially when teaching students became very challenging for me, I kept asking, “What if these students were my brothers and sisters?” which eventually became “What if these students were my children?”. This made me gradually look at the classroom as a stiff structure that amazingly shapeshifts into a safe space that I call home, a wonderful place that I call family. Now I am 43, and I still go to school.

Rev: In 1992, I graduated Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of the East. I worked as a dentist for almost ten years, but I still felt unfulfilled or incomplete as a person during the latter years of my dental career. I felt tired and demotivated every time I came from the dental clinic. I would cancel some of my dental appointments and sometimes even refer some of my patients to other dentists. I could not see myself staring at oral cavities for the rest of my life. After much soul searching and self-reflection, I told myself that I would like to be where my heart is…which is to be with children, specifically preschoolers. It was always a joy to be in the midst of children. I would even dream of school playgrounds when I was in elementary (STC, QC) and high school (SPC QC). I prayed that God would give me the wisdom and discernment to not only do what I love but to do what the Lord wants.

My dreams continued to haunt me, and finally, my husband suggested acting on these dreams. “Why don’t you take a few educational units…just take it from there and see where it leads you.” so I pursued my innermost passion for being an educator. I took Professional Educational units in PLM, and this baby step jumpstarted my journey as an educator. After passing the Licensure Exam for Teachers, I started as a Preschool teacher at St. Louis University in Cebu.

In my third year, I became the Preschool Coordinator. When my military husband was reassigned in Manila, I left St.Louis Cebu, then applied as a preschool teacher in Mano Amiga Academy, Taguig. After two years, our principal in Mano Amiga decided to leave his post due to health reasons and recommended me to be his successor. I became the School Principal of Mano Amiga in 2010, and up to this day, I still feel blessed to be serving our school community. My journey as an educator took a long time or a longer route, but it was all worth the wait.

What self-care practices and habits did you adopt during the pandemic?

Chariza: The pandemic was really a challenging time for everyone. As a teacher, I had to shift everything online, which is something I was not taught nor trained to do. There are some self-care practices and habits that I had to develop to take care not only of my physical health, but my mental health as well. These include the following: re-watching my favorite movies/shows, eating my comfort foods, learning something new, reading books, and playing online games.

Anne: I bought a folding bike, and I have been pedaling to the barrios whenever I can to get some fresh air, enjoy the view, and just stay away from technology. I also exercise daily, watch crime series every night, and homeschool my kids. Whenever I run errands, I drop by my favorite local coffee shop to just sit and sip there while I thank God for the gift of time and perspective.

Rev: When the lockdown started in March 2020, I thought that it would just be a temporary thing. But when the cases began to rise and we need to be quarantined, I experienced sudden palpitations due to anxiety. I realized that too much COVID news was not good for my mental health so I stopped reading any news that has to do with the pandemic. Instead, I flooded my mind with articles that have to do with positivity, spiritual growth, sports, and entertainment. I even started to entertain myself by watching K-Drama and comedy shows.

I see to it that I have a routine to follow. I would call them self-care routines. These routines are lifesavers because it gives me a sense of stability, peace, direction, grounding and found it very helpful especially during times of uncertainty or unpredictability. Having a routine makes me feel there are still areas in my life that I could control. A typical day would start with my morning stretches, coffee conversations with my husband, household chores, online meetings, gardening, cooking, family prayer time, then movie time. We also have family game nights every Saturday.

Another practice that I developed during the pandemic was to have a gratitude journal/calendar. I always have a space in my calendar to write (be it big or small) what I am thankful for that day. For example, I am grateful for the wind, the aroma of the coffee, mangoes' taste, etc.

My last self-care practice would be the habit of giving more importance to relationships. I would have daily check-ins with my parents. One of my greatest fear is losing my parents. When the pandemic hit, I could no longer visit my parents as often as I could. I would make it a point to video call my parents and exchange stories and updates. Just talking to them would make my day complete and fulfilled. The pandemic taught me a lot of things. Yes, it made me weak or anxious, but it also made me stronger and more aware of the more important areas of my life.

As someone in the educating profession, what advice would you give to young adults who plan to take on an educating profession?

Chariza: Everyone can teach, but not everyone can be a teacher. To those who wanted to be educators, they must make sure that teaching is indeed their passion. Teaching should be something that they really want to do because once they are there, they must think of the lives that they will be affecting. Teaching is not something that one can just quit doing if s/he realized s/he doesn’t like it, and it is not something that one can just do half-heartedly. It requires patience, dedication, and eagerness to learn. Teachers continuously develop themselves personally and professionally, not only for themselves, but also for their students.

Anne: Give it a try! Yes, it’s fun, practical, and stable. Brace yourself though, because it could surprise you big time with memories of learning, growing, and living that you might not want leave it anymore. So go to school again, this time as a teacher!

Rev: Know your inner ”why.” Ask yourself questions like: Why do I want to teach? Am I in this profession because I really, genuinely love it? Would I still do it even if the salary is below your expectation? Or is it just because my parents want me to be in it. Your reason should be coming from your inner core, your heart. If you could imagine yourself as an educator even after 20 or more years, it is meant for you. Being in the education profession is not just work or career. It is more of a calling, a mission to uplift or transform lives. Suppose you could identify your authentic “why,” it would be easier for you to face any challenge or difficult situation that may come your way. You will not easily give in to any roadblock because you are willing to sacrifice in your heart, and you believe that you will overcome.

Treat each day as a learning day. As educators, you should never stop learning. Our role involves supporting others as they learn. It would also be helpful; to form a habit of self-reflection. It teaches us to improve our craft by accepting and learning from our mistakes or shortcomings to be better educators or formators.

And lastly, it is more important to focus on building relationships rather than grades. When you meet your students after 3 or 5 years, they will not remember the grades that you gave to them. But they will remember how you made them feel when you were their teacher. Relationships with students and parents play a bigger role in education. Teachers are central to their lives, and our actions will play a major role in all they do so it would also help to begin the school year by thinking about ways to build trusting and meaningful relationships with your students and the school community.

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