How Educators Can Battle Burnout with Inner-Life Work
We often view “professionalism” as the ability to separate and/or suppress our personal feelings from the job we are hired to do. But what happens when the job you are hired to do requires you to be open about your own personal experiences? In fact, what if it asks you to be your most vulnerable self? In order to create meaningful relationships with students, there must be an element of this vulnerability laid into the foundations of the classroom culture. When we ask our students to bring their whole selves to class, we must then model this as their educators. This is not something you typically hear being encouraged in most classrooms, but I guess Youth on Record has never been considered very typical. ;) In response, YOR has been encouraging the staff to explore a framework we’re calling: Inner-Life Work.
Through this framework we write out a personal goal for the year. Here’s an example of a question we can ask ourselves when we start Inner-Life Work:
“What is an area of your personal life that – if improved, or cultivated – will have a
positive impact in your work-life?
I thought about this question for a long time. Right now I’m a full time educator and musician and I started to think about how people in both of these careers have something big in common. Teachers and Artists are often expected to work beyond what is sustainable, feasible, or even possible. And a lot of us will work our own little miracles to find a way to do it for a while, but because of the high cost both emotionally and physically we end up burning out. So my Inner-Life goal for this academic year has been to establish routines and strategies of self-care so that I can provide more harmony in the creative endeavors, responsibilities, and relationships in my life. By setting this goal I started to get more consistent sleep, I was eating healthier, I made time to clean my physical space, and it even inspired me to forge my own self-care strategy that (for now) I’m calling Emotional Budgeting.
Inner-Life work has expanded my emotional capacity both personally and professionally and by caring for myself, I am profoundly reminded that the acknowledgement of my limitations is actually an honoring of my excellence.
Your students deserve the best possible version of yourself.
The people in your life deserve the best possible version of yourself.
But no one deserves this version more than you do.
*Photo by Steph Mathena