Listen to the episode by clicking the link to your preferred podcast platform below:
This month, we are diving back into the archives looking at episodes from March of the season one. So this was last year 2021. Taking the most popular episodes from our mini planning series and revisiting them because this is relevant information for any year. Any year of your practice, even if you want to really listen, this is content that folks have said. They have actually gone through my course on this several times and found extreme value in looking at it at different parts throughout the pandemic, different year to year, just having a different planning process, teaching different things, were just needing a refresher on what that content reminded them to do.
So I hope you enjoy from the archives, our planning series. This is gonna be five episodes in March. It includes, how do you spend your time, all of the tips on planning, the beliefs that get in the way, advancing wellness and efficient effective lesson planning.
Be sure to listen to them all or if you're just using a refresher, listen to the ones that you think a refresher would be incredibly valuable for you and inspiring for you to paint that picture of what it looks like to take less work home. Be more efficient, effective and really your best teacher or educator or leader self.
Welcome to episode 22 of the time for teacher ship podcast with the planning series, We are on part five, we're talking today about advancing our personal wellness.
Hi, I'm Lindsey Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you're a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader and if you enjoy nursing out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the time for teacher ship podcast.
Let's dive in.
I want to start with why, why do we want to advance our personal wellness? There are so many personal reasons we could name. Of course we want to advance our personal wellness, but it's also good for school culture. And so I want to take a moment to look at the research on flourishing school culture that really centers well being for students and staff. The first thing is that well being is critical for organizational. So school success and student individual success.
Research has found that employee health in all organizations, schools included directly impact the success of organizations. So in the case of schools, student achievement is directly impacted by employee health and well being a principal's sense of well being is related to the well being of students and teachers. And similarly educators report that they flourish when their students flourish.
Teachers are able to see in their classrooms and their relationships with students when the students are doing well, they are doing well. So there's this interconnected nature of well being and flourishing across the school according to the Mayo clinic, the person you report to at work. So your direct boss or supervisor is more important for your health than your family doctor, which is mind blowing, flourishing schools are focused on three big things. They are focused on filling the culture with trust, with hope, with compassion, play, purpose, passion and presence. Schools that are dedicated to the presence of these features in the culture are going to be spaces for well being where all educators, staff, students can thrive.
The second thing is that leaders, so administrators or teacher leaders of flourishing schools are engaged, they are purposeful in their work, They are adventurous, they are brave they're bold, they're also resilience and their collaborative.
Finally, those leaders have a shared leadership mindset, the ability to adapt, right? We talk a lot about adaptive leadership on this podcast. As well as have a high subjective well being themselves. We talked about that in point number one schools that center the well being of all stakeholders. It's intimately connected, the different stakeholder groups and their well being to the organizational well being and to other stakeholders well being. We see that schools that are well, are focused on these pieces passion, purpose presence, trust, hope, compassion, being adventurous, being resilient, being collaborative, having a shared leadership, an adaptive leadership mindset.
These are all key components now schools that have been at the award winning level for having amazing leadership for having school culture that promotes well being for all stakeholders. This is what researchers found that they demonstrated. They fostered nurturing relationships. They made decisions to elevate other's ideas and professional growth. They brought the organization's vision to life.
They built capacity for school stakeholders that were focused specifically on holistic well being. So they improved the ability of each stakeholder teachers, students, families, staff to be well. They built individual capacity for that and collective capacity for that. As leaders, they were approachable, accessible, available, aware, appreciative of others.
So again fostering that culture of well being through how they show up. They also reported high levels of resilience which encompasses a lot of different stuff. They were self aware of what they had and what they needed. The importance of learning and developing and constantly growing to be well and finding purpose and meaning, living into their values and being well themselves. And this was significantly and positively correlated with thriving, with well being, the experience of flow. So Shikh Maha idea of flow. We talked about that earlier in the planning series being fully immersed in the work where time seems to evaporate and we're really focused and just loving what we are doing.
These leaders also reported high levels of grit. So working towards challenges, working through failure and discomfort and that was positively correlated with thriving with well being with resilience. All of these pieces echo things we talked about on the podcast all the time. They echo the pieces of teaching and leading for justice and recognizing that when we teach and lead for justice, when we do what is uncomfortable, when we collaborate, when we lean into our values. When we center the importance of well being for all stakeholders, When we share leadership, then each individual member of the organization as well as the organization as a whole can truly thrive.
Student achievement is through the roof and everyone feels better, they feel like they are fully themselves. Leadership scholar Robert Keegan asks us the following, he says "Imagine so valuing the importance of developing people's capabilities that you design a culture that itself immersive. Lee sweeps every member of the organization into an ongoing developmental journey in the course of working every day."
Imagine making the organization itself and not separate extra benefits the incubator of capability. Imagine if our organizations are schools were incubators of capability and we prioritize wellness. What might that look like? Researchers Mileder and Dimmer talk about four things that you can do to start. So the self work is about learning your own strengths and the strengths of the people you work with. What do you need to develop? What do you need to live into your fullest self, also do the self work of walking the talk. So modeling a life of well being for your colleagues, for the students around you.
In the category of supporting others well being, make sure your organizational environment is reinforcing healthy behaviors, not as some sort of add on program that like we do yoga after school or something, but as part of the fabric of how the school operates, make healthy behaviors and well being intimately connected to the purpose of the school and how it's run.
The final piece they suggest is to foster well being through positive interpersonal communication. Our day to day interactions with other students, with other colleagues, with families. We can foster well being or we can do the opposite. We can harm well being, we can perpetuate oppression. We're fostering well being. We're doing that intentionally through our positive interpersonal, not just communication, but I would add partnership.
The reality is many schools have incredibly high turnover rates. They are feeling the time crunch to improve academic scores and data points very quickly. That's often because that's what we focus on. We focus on those and results, the public data. But what if we instead refocused attention and made time to create space for teachers to grow and learn and be well and model for students the creation of space and time to grow and be well. Schools that don't prioritize well being likely to see high rates of teacher burnout and signs of deteriorating teacher and student well being. When teachers stress
we know affects student success and student well being. It is important to tackle this issue. That's the why behind the strategies that I'm going to share next. Let's look at the National Wellness Institutes kind of dimensions of wellness. Let's break down what wellness really is and then talk about some practices for how we live into wellness. The National Wellness Institute shares six dimensions of wellness and those are physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and occupational. Their definition of wellness is this follows, they say it is an active process through which people become aware of and make choices toward a more successful existence.
So wellness is existing successfully, this being your full self in the world. And it includes this process of not just becoming aware of yourself and what you need and what you can do to be better, but making choices to be more well. And so I love that this gives us an agency in a system that we exist in that often puts limitations on certain people's wellness.
At the same point, we need to be aware of the larger structures, for example, in a school system, the school culture, the policies, the practices that may impede wellness and we need to push against those to make those more welcoming for wellness practices.
We also need to do that on a national level, state and federal policy, but in terms of individuals, here are the things that I want to break down in terms of how I've thought about them and practical strategies that I've personally used to really improve my own wellness and well being.
So physical well being. When I was teaching in a physical school, I was moving my body all day every day, I was constantly moving around and when I was teaching I was teaching in New York and so at least 30 minutes, maybe more of my commute was walking to and from trains to and from busses. I was moving all day long and so the transition to teaching from home or for me becoming a consultant, many folks are now sitting at desks each day as opposed to being in physical spaces where we're constantly moving. That challenged my physical well being.
I'm not at my best physically or mentally when I sit all day long. And so I've tried to find ways to move my body every day. As a runner. I try to go for a run as often as I can. Sometimes I feel like a goal that is too lofty to run every day, for example, is just not achievable. And so then I stop pursuing that goal. I've heard people saying I'm going to do 21 minutes of whatever activity they wanted to do in the year 2021. And so I said yes, I'm going to move my body. I'm going to walk or run 21 minutes every morning. First thing I do when I get up that way. If I don't get to it later on or I'm not feeling the run, I can always make sure I did something as soon as I woke up and that doesn't always have to be running.
It can just be moving my body, it doesn't have to be walking, it can be moving your arms if you're unable to walk, just moving your body in whatever way feels good for you or feels possible for you. Sometimes during a zoom meeting or zoom class, it's taking a long time. I will stand up and do some bodyweight squats, shake up my limbs for 10 seconds, stretch and try to touch the ceiling, try to touch the floor to try to get up and move my body in the middle of the day just as a quick, maybe 1 to 2 minute break.
And if I'm doing a workshop with educators, we're teaching a class that also gives students and educators the opportunity to see that modeled for them and have that opportunity themselves to take that break in that moment. Let's dive into the next piece. So this is social well being. I am definitely an introvert. And so this is a little bit of a challenge for me. I definitely want to practice self care and kind of recharge my energy in the way that I like to do that, which is often sitting in a corner with a blanket in a book, but I have absolutely enjoyed seeing people in a 1 to 1 space.
I think the larger social setting for me can be a little bit off putting, but the 1 to 1 space connecting deeply within their human being is actually really enjoyable. And so it's been a little bit of of a reworking of my brain to say yes, I am on zoom all day long and yes, I am tired of being on zoom. But if this is how I can connect safely and in a healthy way with people who I haven't seen in a long time that actually is feeding my social wellness and it is something that I can absolutely do.
I also connect with other educators and workshop facilitators when I collaborate with them. So work is a big part of my life and so sometimes there's overlap between these pieces of well being and I can socialize with a co facilitator like a co teacher or a colleague and I can do my work but be social in the process, right? I can be social with my students.
I can connect to them as human beings in my Monday wind time. How I structure my classes, my college class right now meets Mondays and Wednesdays and so I've reserved Monday's has time for students to opt in and have one on one or small group meetings with me.
It speaks to the need to just connect one on one. Last semester, I had a lot of students who just connected for the social purpose of just seeing their teacher and being able to talk. Maybe they didn't even have a question about the project, but they needed that social connection time in a smaller space and that's really important to be able to find whatever it looks like to you. Lift that part of yourself up and give it some life. The next piece is intellectual well being. So I am a very goal oriented person. For the past several years.
I've set a goal for the number of books that I want to read that has often kept me reading more than watching tv, which is just a super easy thing to just sit down and do at the end of the day when my brain is tired. I love the Goodreads app and I use their annual reading challenge to set my goal and then track how I've been reading. I also love reading other people's reviews. I also love podcasts about books "What to read next ", by Anne Bogel is a good one that fellow educator Laura Cruz introduced me to. So thank you Laura.
Having different pieces like this that are kind of embedded into places I already am. So my phone, seeing the Goodreads up any time I open my phone. Like I'm often gravitating to that app versus you know, social media or something else that I think might be actually harmful to my mental well being. At times I have learned a ton in my 100 book challenge for the last few years. That's been really fun to be able to kind of dig into learning about myself as a learner podcasts or another thing on my 21 minute walks or runs in the morning. I will also listen to a lot of podcasts earlier in the planning series, we talked about never having enough time and for folks who feel like that to be the case for themselves, this is a wonderful kind of overlap.
For example, the physical well being merged with the intellectual well being. I can do both of those things and satisfy both of those pieces of my well being at the same time. The finding places of overlap or matching up these practices can be really powerful.
Another example of a matchup that kind of combines, I would say physical social and intellectual and even occupational, which we'll get to shortly is after school, I would run with a colleague shoutout to Nina thank you Nina for being a motivator for me being able to socialize, also talk about work or kind of brainstorm some work ideas if we needed to think about something creatively and also move our bodies and be physically well And I thought that was just a really great opportunity to kind of align all the different things that were important to me in a way that felt really true to what I wanted to do in the moment and what I felt excited to do.
The next piece is spiritual well being broadly is more one sense of purpose or meaning in life according to the National Wellness Institute.
So it's not necessarily religion per se, I am not religious, but I do have a strong sense of purpose. Being able to dig down and determine what our purpose is, what I can offer the world, my community, that can be really powerful in terms of keeping us going, keeping us well, giving us showing up to these spaces and challenging times. Like during a pandemic for example.
I try really hard to dig down into, you know what is that purpose and that purpose is constantly evolving. That's a really interesting thing to sit with and just think for a while, dig into my heart, my head, my soul, right and think about what is it that I'm doing and how am I showing up in a way that I want to show up in the world is aligned to my values my purpose.
Another thing that I often use in class are the values in actions, character strengths. I use those with high school students to identify which value I am strengthening or I should be strengthening right, an area of growth or an area for growth, I should say, or an area of strength.
Using these as kind of points of reflection. If reflection feels like a difficult thing to do, I can hone in on those specific values and say, how did I demonstrate that today? How did I demonstrate courage today? How did I demonstrate connection today? The next piece is emotional well being.
I teach myself to use the same self regulation strategies or mindfulness techniques that I've used with students or invited students to use over the time that I've taught lately, I've been kind of lowering the shoulders Dr. Sri Bridges Patrick, she's really helped me by recommending books and also just having moments of check in time at the start of each meeting. She says, "Go below the neck." I find that just really visual or embodied language to be able to say "Yeah, okay, like let me go below the neck." What is going on in my body in this moment. What am I feeling if I'm having some heightened anxiety lowering those shoulders, kind of bringing them back, taking a deep breath and just feeling what's going on connecting to that emotion. Seeing if I can name that emotion is really key.
I've used the stop, think, breathe app which there is a version for students or youth and there's also a version for adults. I've also experimented with because I work from home, being able to distinguish the work part of the day from the being home and being just a regular person, not at work part of the day with doing some yoga or some light movement paired with some breathing.
I find mindfulness that's rooted in movement like things like yoga to be easier for me because it's really difficult and challenging to shut off my brain. I think that means it's an area for future growth. But for now that works for me, ending the workday with that moment of mental clarity and deep breathing and a little bit of movement helps me to then turn off work and kind of switch into at home mode. Points of transition has been really helpful for me and thinking about how to keep my emotional well being in check. Other things like other pieces of boundaries, like when I check email and how often I respond to requests or emails, how often I have my phone's volume on, which is literally never.
I always have it on silent and I can check it when I can check it. These are also other things that I've realized like certain things spike my anxiety and impede my emotional well being. And so I've had to kind of construct what I've found to be really helpful boundaries to promote that well being. So that's going to look different for everyone and maybe thinking about where you are and then what could be helpful for you would be an exercise that would be valuable.
And finally, as educators occupational well being is also important for us, right? We want to do a good job for students. Of course it can feel challenging, particularly in the last few years, there are so many things shifting and changing and teaching has always been difficult. But I encourage folks to identify one or two ways that you have done an amazing job, a success perhaps that you had with students this week, a lesson that went wonderfully well, an activity within a lesson that went wonderfully well and name that and celebrate that. Focus on those wins because even if they are few and far between, they are incredibly important to sustaining our occupational well being and our sense of self and our joy for the profession.
For me, another piece of that is again merging with intellectual well being, the opportunity to learn and grow and become an even better educator. There are opportunities for me to listen as I listen to podcasts on my walk again, seeing the overlap here we have the physical walking, the intellectual well being of the podcasting and the occupational well being of listening to a podcast while walking that is about education. There are a lot of different ways we can line these up and do one activity or spend 20 minutes on an activity that hits multiple pieces of well being. And so I encourage you to kind of find points of overlap here that work for you and I encourage you to just deeply reflect on each piece of these. I'll just list them out these six dimensions of wellness are physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and occupational.
Get a sense of where you are you at a one out of 10 on this. How would you rate your well being in this particular area? Take a moment to just sit with that for each of those six areas and then think about an action step.
Maybe that you currently do that you want to keep doing or something that you'd like to add to your daily practice and it doesn't even have to be daily, it could be weekly as well.
Another thing that I've learned from using Emily Areis, life tracker planner is that a monthly wellness goal with three concrete actions that kind of fall underneath it. So in january, my wellness school was to just be really active and just wanted to be active most days of the week. That's where my 21 minutes of walking came in.
I also had another couple specific goals. I was new to the area. I wanted to map out to new runs, pinpointing concrete ways that I can fulfill each month's wellness goal and the reason that I was just successful in January of setting up this is because wellness was my prioritized or highlighted area.
We've talked about highlighting in the previous episodes in this mini series, but highlighting or letting it be the priority some days or some weeks or some months. However, you highlighter prioritized sometimes wellness needs to be the priority to make sure that it gets the attention that it deserves.
Just try to find a rhythm of where that is for you to help you.
I will link in the show notes, the freebie for this week which is a well being tracker. You can also get it at bit.ly/well-beingtracker. One episode left in our planning series which is about lesson planning more efficiently and effectively.
If you have not listened to the others, please go back, start with part one and listen to all six parts of the planning series, because when we plan better we are able to reduce our time spent on things that are not meaningful. They're not moving the needle where we want it to move and we're reducing our chance of being well. This planning series is intimately connected to our wellness and I want you to make sure you have all of the strategies possible there. In the same vein here, if you want to take an in depth walkthrough of how I became well enough to have enough time to get a PhD and run the New York city marathon while teaching full time and designing brand new units for my students. You can check out my self paced online course which is called work less, teach more.
It is now open for enrollment and it is $197. My professional and mental well being was worth way more to me than $200. I would have paid a lot of money to be able to achieve the kind of well being that I got to with just a lot of trial and error.
I want you to be able to skip that trial and error and get right there. So if you'd like to enroll today, you can go to bit.ly/wltmcourse.
If you're a school leader and you want to help your teachers be well, you want them to have the energy and the wellness to be able to show up as their full selves and model for students how to show up as their full selves and transform that school culture into one of flourishing and wellness.
You can absolutely purchase the course for your teachers, purchase it as a pilot program where one department or one grade team takes it on and test it out before going to the whole school or you could just dive right in and get it for the whole school.
If you would like to chat with me, if you're a leader or a teacher or an instructional coach or a professor, go ahead and shoot me an email.
firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see if the course would be a good fit for you. That's it for part five in the planning series. I will see you in the next installment which is going to be our last piece of the planning series.
Thanks for listening. amazing educators. If you loved this episode you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsaybethlyons or leave review of the show, so leaders like you will be more likely to find it to continue the conversation. Until next time, leaders continue to think big, act brave and be your best self.
For transcripts of episodes (and the option to search for terms in transcripts), click here!
Time for Teachership is now a proud member of the...
Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.