I'm going to talk about caring for ourselves as teachers. My name is Jacqui Couper, and I've worked for many years as an occupational therapist, and [inaudible] enough discussions in neither the health, nor education sectors that promote caring for the teacher, whose both a carer, and guides learning. Teachers are caring for the well-being of children, and they also care that children can learn to the best of their ability. Although the primary role for any teachers about learning, this goes hand-in-hand with caring for the person who has to learn. This topic of self-care is important,as this is an ever increasing rate of depression, and anxiety in our workplaces, and communities. We work as carers of others and yet neglect to talk about caring for ourselves. Let me be clear from the outset, that caring for oneself is not selfish,nor self-centred. I understand that we live in an age of selfies, but that is another topic, and not at all carrying for self. The way in which we care for ourselves, is the same way that we care for others. We care for ourselves so that we are able to care for, and teach children, as well as interact positively with our colleagues, and parents of the children. We care for ourselves so that we have enough patience, and energy to teach at our best ability. I hope that you can understand why then, caring for ourselves is really not selfish, but it enables us to be the best teachers we can be. If I asked you, what does it mean to care for oneself, how would you respond? The most common answers may be a lovely bubble bath, or massage and spa session,or sitting quietly with a cup of coffee, or chatting with friends and families. For mothers of young children, it may simply be a few minutes without any demands. We all know that our bodies need adequate nutrition, enough rest, sleep, and exercise. We have experienced times when we have been over busy. During these times, we tend to neglect the basics: sleep restlessly, and eat fast foods. This has consequences for our bodies. So we may be vulnerable to getting sick for example. We have choices in the way we look after ourselves, and there are consequences of these choices, both positive, and negative. Apart from caring for our bodies, we also need to take care of ourselves as a whole person. We must take equal care of our emotions, our understanding, and deeper thoughts, and spirituality. Caring for, and teaching children in reality, can be exhausting as one gives so much of oneself to the learners listening, I mean really listening to children, and being sensitive to the needs can be tiring. If we as teachers do not renew our energy we become more, and more tired. Just like a watering can pouring water to plants so that they can grow. If the watering can does not get a refill of water, the water will run out, and there's no more water for the plants. Few plants can grow without water. We are like that watering can that needs a refill to keep caring for others. Another example is one of the battery in a hearing aid, that needs constant recharging or replacing. We all need to recharge our own batteries by finding ways that give us energy. If a person has cared for too long without renewing their energy, they become dry or burnt out. Some call it compassion fatigue or burnout. This has serious consequences for continuing to care for others. People who have experience burnout take a long time to recover. Some of the early signs of burnout, or being easily irritated or frustrated, lacking emotional, and physical energy to wake up, and go to work, responding negatively to ideas, and suggestions, and not feeling effective in a workplace. I'm not saying that caring for and teaching others is just a one-way process. It is a reciprocal process, or two-way flow, because in the act of caring and teaching,there is a response from the person. A smile, pleasure, concept that is understood, that gives encouragement to the teacher. Recognizing a teacher's contribution and worth helps to fill the watering can or renews the energy of the teacher. There's nothing worse than teaching on and on, and no one says thank you, or acknowledges what has been done. So what does it mean to look after oneself? Burnout or compassion fatigue, maybe a threat to us as teachers. But we should try to work not with the threat, but by being proactive to prevent burnout and live well. If we look after ourselves as a whole person, compassion fatigue or burn out is unlikely to occur. The challenge is to find a good balance between caring for and teaching others, and looking after ourselves. We first need to understand ourselves. What makes us happy, and renews our energy. We are all different, so what one person enjoys it's not necessarily useful to another. We've all grown up in different contexts and have different personalities, which also makes our pleasures different. I enjoy making things and most especially poetry. I have friends who renew their energy, or relaxed by cycling, reading, watching television, and especially sport, cooking, planting in the garden, and playing music. Some people love to socialize with friends and family to relax, and others like to spend time alone. Really does not matter what each enjoys, but that one makes time for enjoying these things. Doing these favorite things helps to recharge our batteries. For many of us, we think that caring for ourselves as teachers is only doing the relaxing examples I've mentioned at home. Although this is good for a person, we also need to care for ourselves in a work context. This may be more challenging to get right, as any team is made up of very different personalities. Work teams also need to do activities together, that they enjoy and that renews their energy or recharges their battery. This doesn't mean expensive outings or team building events, but also simple activities like planned lunches or tea breaks together. Birthdays or achievements are good ways to come together to share. Laughing together or telling jokes can unite people. Shared goals and efficient within a work team also creates a commonality between work colleagues. Teams who share goals and understand each other are more likely to help each other and through this, share the care and development of children. Being kind and gentle to oneself is one of the most common suggestions for self care. While this may be easy to understand in theory, it is more difficult to practice. None of us like to admit that we make mistakes in our personal life and within a word contexts. Social media makes it appear that all humans are quite perfect and do not need any correction. The reality does not fit into this pretty perfect picture. Part of being human is to make mistakes, misunderstand others, and do the wrong thing over and over. Our culture presents a perfect image, but how do we learn from mistakes if we don't make them? Our child rearing practices don't always accept the children learned through making mistakes. So sadly, children often get punished for making errors, instead of being taught and shown how to do something in a better way. Being punished for making mistakes teaches children the fear of trying and learning through experiments. Being kind to oneself is having an understanding that we are just humans and doing our best. This does mean that mistakes are part of being human. There have been many times that I've said the wrong thing to someone and they have been offended. This happens to all of us at some time or other. Being kind to myself would mean that I understand the reasons why I said what did. I do not punish myself by accusing myself for being angry. I recognized that I did not intend to hurt and with care and gentleness to myself, I apologize to the person. Then I try to not let that matter continue and fester. This may seem unrealistic to anyone who has a child experienced punishment with each mistake as a way of teaching and listen. In a work context, we need to practice more kindness and gentleness. It may be that we first need to hear another person's story before we are angry and judgmental about any behavior. We need to listen to other people's stories before we act to it. Being kind and gentle can build a work team so that each person feels supported. If this is practiced in a work context, we can reach the shared goals together more easily. We live in a world that is ever-changing and demands that we continually learn new things. This may be quite daunting, especially if we know that others are judging us. Judging others is a human way of comparing ourselves to other people. To not judge others is to accept that each person has differences. Yes. with 7.7 billion people on the earth, each one is different. We should know that differences are part of our humanity. To not judge others, we first need to understand our own value, of who we are, and what we can do. It is just when we can see our own preciousness, that we start to become more confident in our role as a teacher for the children or mother to a family. In a work context, we should not judge others for the behavior, mistakes, and achievements until we have heard their story. Each person is also precious, which means that it is good to listen to the stories of others. I wonder if there is less judging in a work context, where the teachers will be able to work with more motivation. Caring for ourselves is also to focus on the positive. This certainly does not mean that we ignore the negatives. We have to talk about the negatives, struggles, and challenges in life, as they also can teach us important lessons. But it is better to focus on how to move forward and look for the positive things that we can do. My friend who's a cyclist explained to me a trick in cycling, which is a good lesson for life. If the cyclist is cycling towards mud puddle and wants to avoid the mud, the cyclist must look past the mud hole to the path ahead. If the cyclist is thinking, "I must avoid the mud hole," but focuses on the hole, there's more chance to cycle straight into the mud. But if the cyclist is thinking, "I see a mud hole, but I want to go and hit on the path," it's easier to avoid the mud and follow the path. In life, we need to acknowledge the negatives and the muddy murkiness of life, but keep our eyes on the path ahead of us and keep moving forward. Self care or caring for ourselves as teachers is critically important. We all need to learn to practice self care both in our personal and work lives. I think that self care needs to be promoted and even become normalized for any school. Promoting self care in a workplace such as a school, can have many positive outcomes for the well-being of not just the teacher and staff, but also the children. Let us not judge those who have been self-experienced burnout or compassion fatigue, but hear the stories. Let us learn from these stories, so that we can learn to care for ourselves and others with less judgment and more kindness and gentleness. Let us focus on the understanding that each person is precious, look for the positives of life, and be involved. Let us practice self-care not just in our personal lives, but also within a work or school context, so that our children can learn to their best stability. Well supported children often do better. Our present and future relies on children developing into their best potential.