I never knew education was a controversial topic until I became a teacher. I didn't realize there were people who believed that I was trying to sway students to believe a certain way or accept certain beliefs. It was completely out of my awareness.
Then when I became a teacher, I started to listen and focus in on those conversations I saw happening on social media and in the mainstream media related to education, and it was really upsetting for me.
I felt confused and offended and betrayed and angry. And there were times that I would ruminate about it for hours on end. I just couldn't understand how people could believe that me and my colleagues were doing anything other than teaching the curriculum we were mandated to teach and using best practices to do it.
It hurt me emotionally because I didn't have the skills to know how to disconnect myself from that kind of negativity, and sometimes I felt like I couldn't look away! I just kept watching and reading comments on social media even though I could feel the impact it was having on me emotionally.
A few years into my career, I discovered Kidpower International and started reading through some of their materials on how to help kids stay safe from abuse and bullying. I ended up partnering with them to do some research and attended one of their adult classes called Fullpower. In that class I learned a couple of emotional safety techniques that I want to share with you that changed how I handle emotional triggers when they happen.
1. Personal Trashcan Technique - This is a technique Kidpower teaches kids to help them visualize throwing away hurting words, but the instructors realized they were using it too, so they now teach it to all ages. Here's how it works:
When you hear someone say something offensive or harmful about educators, you imagine throwing their words away, and you tell yourself the truth. For example, if you hear someone say "Educators are putting harmful books in their classroom libraries," you can mentally throw that away and tell yourself the truth — "I choose appropriate books for my students that enrich their education."
2. Emotional Screen Technique - The emotional safety screen works like a screen door. It keeps the bugs out and lets the fresh air in. When I hear someone say something about educators, I take information I need into my heart, and I keep the rest out. For example, if someone says, "Educators are trying to convince kids to believe what they believe. They're manipulative." I can take into my heart that someone is concerned, and not internalize "manipulative."
3. That's Not True Technique - The "That's Not True" technique is something you can say internally when you're confronted with statements about educators that you disagree with. Instead of going through all the reasons why it's not correct, you simply tell yourself, "that's not true," and close the screen/turn off the TV/leave the conversation.
You can find out more about these emotional safety techniques and more by reading this article from Kidpower.org. You can also access a free course called Fullpower: Emotional Safety Skills in Kidpower's Online Learning Center.
I'd love to hear how you use these techniques at work or with students! You can share in the Teacher Care Network Support Communities.
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