We are so pleased to welcome you to the ASU/Valle Del Sol Survival Guide for Teachers! Our team includes a professor, counselor, social worker, and former teacher, and we are partnering with the Sullivan Foundation to provide this series of weekly tips to help you as you teach and care for Arizona’s children.
Your jobs are incredibly important. Teachers not only prepare the next generation of young people who will become our future leaders, you also build caring relationships with children, some of whom are hurting. You have an incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the students you serve. Yet, we also know that your work is difficult, and it can at times be physically and emotionally exhausting.
The content of our tips will be getting at what we call the “Heart of the Teacher”. We know you would not have taken on the responsibility of teaching if you did not have a heart for children. However, when times get tough, our hearts can be broken as we are trying to navigate difficult behaviors or are exposed to situations that are sad or painful.
The purpose of our tips is to get at the “heart” of the matter by sharing honest and applicable information about how to take a trauma-informed approach to teaching while also learning to remain mindful about taking care of your own needs.
For us, building up the heart of the teacher involves four things.
First, you have to understand yourself. You are a human being with natural automatic responses to what is happening in your classroom. Over the next three months, you will be receiving tips about mindfulness and will hear more about how remaining present and aware of ourselves and our surroundings is essential to our ability to navigate the classroom effectively.
We will then talk about how to understand your students. To do this, we have to talk some about trauma. Many of the students you serve have in the past or are currently experiencing trauma. Although it is not your place to treat that trauma, understanding it can help explain some of the behaviors you are having to manage in the classroom.
We will then move from talking about trauma to learning about how to grow stronger, both as teachers and students. Specifically, we will be looking at how you as a teacher can cultivate the process of resilience. Although trauma has negative effects on children, you as teachers serve an important role in creating opportunities for young people to overcome the challenges they face. And, as you help them grow, you too will learn about how to foster resilience in your own spirit as a teacher
Finally, once we understand ourselves, our students, and how to grow stronger, it’s time to apply these ideas to your work with your students. The heart of the teacher gets at, not just what we think or understand, but also what we do, specifically as it relates to the relationships you form with your students. Once you understand yourself, understand them, and can see a path for growth and adaptation, you form meaningful relationships that frankly, can change the path of the lives of the young people you serve.
Put simple, you matter. And, we are incredibly honored to partner with you by providing some content and stories of encouragement as you take on the undeniably meaningful role of teacher. Consider this your own personal survival guide to teaching.
For the next 13 weeks, you will be receiving “Tips on Tuesdays.” Each Tuesday morning you will receive an email with content and stories that encourage our teachers in Arizona.
No different than going to the gym to exercise in order to strengthen your physical heart, the process of strengthening the heart of a teacher is also a discipline. This will mean finding 5 to 10 minutes each Tuesday to review the tip on your phone or computer and finding another few minutes to reflect on the content provided in that tip. The content is brief and directly applicable to your work as a teacher.
Please think about how you will prioritize this task and allow this content to become embedded into your weekly routine this fall. We will be offering a new set of tips next spring as well.
Again welcome, so happy you have joined our community of teachers!