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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in mental health

Posted by on in What If?

A nearby community has a wonderful, play-based preschool cooperative. Several of the teachers are my former students and I was invited to attend their monthly meetings whenever I could… joining in conversations with staff and families about child development, preschool, parenting… life.

I’ve been to 4 of these sessions and so far, it’s been interesting to hear the kinds of things that concern both preschool teachers and parents.

Last Monday night, a mother told us about her oldest son, who was now in his second month of Kindergarten, having just turned 5 the day before he started. She said that although he had attended preschool three days a week prior, her son was having a difficult time transitioning to what the public school system was dishing out… moving into 5 full days a week, 8 hours a day. Besides the number and length of his days, it was also the intensity. He had to be fully engaged in academics the entire time, even during lunch. There was no “pause button” to his day. This was having a noticeable impact on him, both physically and emotionally. When he got home, she explained, she’d find him sprawled on the floor, exhausted. Being overtired wreaked havoc on his emotions and the emotional climate of their home. He was cranky and whiny, and often just started crying.

child misbehaving discipline 3

This mom was searching for some answers or any kind of help to smooth her son’s way into dealing with his daily school routine.

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Posted by on in What If?

downtime 427x213

Think back to your own childhood and the amount of downtime you had. Do you remember lying on your back outdoors, looking for creatures in the clouds? Playing outside with friends and having the freedom to choose whatever game you wanted to play, or whatever drama you wanted to enact? Being alone in your bedroom, curled up on the bed and reading a beloved book, or quietly acting out a story with your dolls, action figures, or stuffed animals?

I remember all of those things. But today’s children won’t have such memories, because they aren’t being granted the same opportunities. Instead, too many of today’s children are leading overscheduled lives, with no time just to be.

Intuitively, we know that everyone, including children, needs downtime. No one, even the most energetic among us, cares to rush through their waking hours, day after day after day. We know how stressful it is to be overscheduled, over-pressured, and overwhelmed. We’ve witnessed the toll it takes on adults (on us!) – and it’s horrible to imagine children feeling this way.

Despite this, many parents are afraid to let their children simply “do nothing.” They worry that if they don’t keep their children busy, busy, busy, they will have résumés that look sparse in comparison to their counterparts.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

mental health 141

I hope everyone knows the above quote.  If not, you need to stop reading this and Netflix this movie!

I’ve done it, you’ve done it, and everyone you’ve worked with has done it.  At some point, you’ve taken a day off, but you didn’t use a vacation day, you weren’t sick, and you did things just for yourself with it. Shopped. Went out to eat. Got a massage or had a spa day. Watched a movie. Saw a baseball game. Binge-watched a series. Slept in. You get the idea. The phrase “mental-health day” has circulated in the workplace for years, yet many shy away from saying that’s what they’re taking.

NBC Nightly News recently aired a story about an employee who emailed her boss saying she was taking a mental-health day. Her boss replied supporting her.

While the summer is a great time to recharge and relax, we need to be doing this during the school year as well. We need to eat right, exercise, and partake in wellness. We all need mental-health days. Don’t shy away from it; be proud of it.

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Posted by on in General

I know it's hard...

Being a teacher is probably one of the most demanding jobs that exists in terms of the commitment, passion, and dedication that it requires. In some jobs, you put your time in, go home and relax, and forget about the challenges of the day, that customer that complained, that client who was unhappy, or possibly that project you're working on in the office.

Teaching is different. As a teacher, you invest so much in your students emotionally, financially, and professionally, that its hard to let go just because a bell rings at the end of the day. Whether its a student who told you about their troubled home life, didn't grasp a concept, or got embarrassedin front of their friends...those moments stick with you.

There is absolutely NOTHING that is going to change this aspect of our job. If you aren't invested in your students, you're probably doing it wrong.

However, if you are constantly focused on your job as an educator it can start to wear on you. It can even start to negatively impact your personal life, your relationships, and yes...as weird as it sounds...your performance as a teacher. Being too consumed by your job can actually hurt your ability to perform that job to the best of your ability.

If this sounds like you, don't worry! There are some things you can control to make it easier on yourself. Many teachers I talk with are always worried about planning, grading, that meeting they have the next day, or that observation they have coming up (which by the way you shouldn't stress out about...seriously)

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Posted by on in Professional Development

music notes png by doloresdevelde d5gt351

For the new school year, why not try a little “day music” to get educators acquainted with themselves, colleagues, and students in a professional development session? My Contemplation Music Writing Project helped students find inner peace and I believe it will work with teachers.

But you might be wondering how I can make this leap from kids to adults? Can the project be adapted to expand intra- and interpersonal communication skills in educators’ worlds? How do we create a more tranquil individual and overall school environment? Can we deflate the stress effecting teachers today? Is it at all possible?

In a word, “yes.” My approach to EI/SEL is an alternative to the mindfulness programs used in schools. It was extremely successful with inner city students under very difficult circumstances. People use this simple technique in daily life without realizing it. And it all centers on music and music listening.

Picture this imaginary scene in professional development session:

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