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THRIV Blog

Your Compassionate Source for
Evidence-Based Recovery Strategies

Presented by: Jen Johnson, PhD

How Difficult Student Behavior Tanks Compassion Satisfaction

Compassion satisfaction is the positive feelings you experience about your work and about your effectiveness as a teacher. 

When thinking about how to build compassion satisfaction, it's helpful to ask, "What happens at work that causes me to NOT have positive feelings or NOT feel effective?" 

When I ask teachers to make a list, almost every single teacher includes something about student behavior. 

The reality is that students engage in behaviors sometimes that we find inappropriate, unhelpful, or outright annoying. When this happens occasionally, it doesn't have a big impact on our overall feelings about our work, but as those challenging behaviors increase, the negative impact on our general feelings about work can begin to build.

When working with students with challenging behavior, we're trained to ask, "What is the function of this behavior? What need does the child meet by engaging in the behavior?" Then we develop interventions that help the child get...

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Two Focus Apps To "Try On" For a More Effective Work From Home Experience

Working from home is something most educators don't want to do, but sometimes it's inevitable. One of the most common concerns I hear from teachers is how long they spend engaging in preparation at home. Whether it's writing lesson plans or IEPs, most teachers are working from home at least once a week.

As an educational psychologist that supports burnout reduction, my goal is to help educators engage in behaviors, routines, and strategies to help them reduce the stress associated with completing clerical tasks at home. 

When I talk with teachers about their work from home habits, I hear a couple of patterns. 

1) I feel guilty when I work from home because I'm not spending time with my family, but I also feel guilty if I don't work because the work has to get done.

2) I try to multitask while I work on the weekends. Sometimes that looks like work + Netflix or work + kid's soccer game, etc. 

We know based on the research that multitasking increases stress and the...

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How to "Marie Kondo" Your Social Media to Support Emotional Health

 

Social media takes a lot of heat when it comes to impacts on mental health. For years we’ve been hearing that social media can be detrimental to emotional health and even exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety, not to mention lower self-esteem (Frost & Rickwood, 2017).

Because of this, for the longest time I resisted hosting support communities on platforms like Facebook. I didn’t want teachers going to FB to get support if it actually harmed their mental health; that’s the opposite of my mission and values at the Teacher Care Network.

How I Discovered the Benefits of Social Media

One of the values of the Teacher Care Network is that we offer evidence-based resources and strategies, so I’m always knee deep in the scientific literature reading and discovering new ways to help educators. During one of my deep dives last summer, I came across an article about the benefits of online support communities for teachers (Chung & Chen, 2018), and that...

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Creating an Emotional Intervention Plan: Because You Need Support Too!

In education, we talk a lot about Behavior Intervention Plans for students, and we talk about how to teach children coping skills for emotional regulation. We recognize that even students who don't have a need for special education services might have emotional needs, and that's why we employ counselors in schools and provide Tier 1 supports for all students in the area of social and emotional learning. We even recognize that some students might need additional help learning emotional coping skills through Tier 2 services, never needing services from special education, but needing interventions nonetheless. 

However, we rarely think about how teachers and staff cope in moments of emotional dysregulation. There seems to be an assumption that we all have the skills necessary to emotionally regulate, even after assisting students in crisis, or that we know where to go to learn those skills if we need them. 

I don't know about you, but when I was in the...

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Strategies for Taking Sick Days

Perhaps one of the most uniquely difficult things about being a teacher is all that is involved in taking a sick day.

I can't think of another profession where taking a sick day involves finding a replacement and writing a moment by moment breakdown of how that replacement is supposed to do your job, especially when your substitute may or may not have any experience actually doing the job. Depending on whether your area is experiencing substitute shortages, you could make that detailed plan and it might not even be used!

Then add in unrealistic expectations of perfect attendance that are promoted and financially rewarded in many districts, and it's no wonder you struggle to take a sick day!

I could go on and on, but you know what the issues are because you live it.

I want to give you three Actions Steps straight from my book THRIVing After Burnout: A Teacher's Compassionate Guide to help you strategize around making the choice to take a sick day. 

1) Reflect on your...

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"Quiet Quitting": Fighting Back Against Toxic Labels

Earlier this week a client sent me a clip from a mainstream news outlet about a new term, "quiet quitting." 

On this blog, we focus on evidence-based practice, so I rarely comment on what the media has decided is important to report about burnout. 

However, this new language has me angry, and I want to kindly address what is happening.

Recently media and influencers have started using the term "quiet quitting" to describe what employers nationwide are experiencing as it relates to employee engagement with work. Major news outlets from NPR to Fox News to CNBC to ABC have posted articles reporting the new trend.

While some have included explanations of how this is actually a terrible term that amounts to setting healthy boundaries, others have taken the opportunity to drag younger generations of workers saying they are "lazy" and don't have "work ethic" because they are choosing to only work during work hours and not engage in work-related activities, like checking...

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Four Groups of People You Need to Prevent Burnout

The second pillar in the THRIV burnout prevention and recovery model is Harness Social Support. Social support can come from a lot of different people and places, but there are four that are particularly important for educators.

Each of these different groups of folks help us to process our experiences in different ways and they provide different kinds of support. 

If you want to make this blog experience interactive, grab a piece of paper and make a grid with four quadrants. In each space, brainstorm the people who fit the bill for that quadrant.

Quadrant 1: Teacher friends. 

Nobody understands what you're experiencing as much as a fellow educator. Who are the educator friends who you can call on when you need help? Who is happy to assist when you have to take a sick day? Who do you go to for instructional ideas when you're drawing a blank?

Quadrant 2: Non-Teacher Friends

I know it sounds strange, but you need some friends that don't know anything about education....

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6 Questions To Help Your Focus on Tending To Yourself

This week in the Teacher Care Network Support Community we're talking about the first pillar in the THRIV™ model, Tend to Yourself.

As you either return to work this week for training or gear up to return, in what ways do you WANT to tend to yourself?

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

1) How will you tend to your physical needs this week? You need food, rest, water, and comfort. Don't forget the comfort! It's an easy one to pass on by.

2) How will you tend to your emotional needs this week? How are you feeling about returning to work? Check out this app, Mood Meter, to help you keep track of your emotions. My favorite part is if you don't like what you're feeling after identifying the emotion, it gives you ideas to change what you're experiencing! It's $0.99 and based in research out of Yale's Center for Emotional Intelligence.

3) How will you tend to your social needs this week? If you're an extrovert, you might be totally...

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Are You Sick Day Saavy?

I didn't plan to tell this personal story today, but because of what's going on with me on this beautiful Friday, I'm changing it up.

I'm currently going through treatment for an autoimmune disease, and I feel like total crap. Sick selfie below.

I've been in bed most of today working on my phone. I got up once to see if I could work at my desk and filmed an Instagram story and then realized it was a terrible idea.

I remember when I had these flares when I was a teacher. A sub never picked up my jobs, and I always felt guilty, like I was letting my students and co-workers down. The years I taught first grade were the worst. I had no idea what was wrong with me (nor did my doctors) and I was so hard on myself. Frankly, my co-workers weren't that supportive either.

It was during that time that I realized that my expectations for myself were toxic. I realized that I had been taught that being at school was more important than my health, and I had bought into the lie.

So I went to...

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The Heroin Bathroom

This past summer I moved from Dallas to a small North Texas town called Wichita Falls. My mom was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and since both my husband and I do most of our work remotely, we decided we wanted to be near her so we could enjoy her last days together as a family.

We finally found a house and hired a moving company to get us from point A to point B. Yay!

Moving day came and the movers arrived (late) and the problems started piling up. One of the three workers was constantly on his phone and in the bathroom. He and the foreman were constantly yelling at each other because of this. The foreman didn't think everything was going to fit in the truck. The owner didn't care and didn't plan on resolving the problem, among other things, like telling me I didn't understand math. If you know me, you know that insulting my intelligence didn't go over well.

Y'all. I wish that was the end of it. 

They arrived in Wichita Falls and among other drama (like asking...

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