By Lori Bellan, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Social-Emotional Learning
Last week, we hosted our first Attentive Talks, a weekly virtual meeting for teachers to come together and vent their frustrations, share their experiences, and learn a few self-soothing skills along the way. As I watched this incredible group of teachers connect, I felt enthused and hopeful for the mission of our organization to help teachers learn how to be more mindful about their own trauma so they can teach students to become resilient. But more than that, I was reminded how important it is to be a part of a community, to belong to a group with a common purpose.
Tribe mentality can increase happiness and emotional resilience
In my years as a mental health counselor, I’ve had the pleasure of leading many groups on different topics. I’ve found that being involved in group work has often resulted in the most profound changes and accelerated progress in my clients. There’s something about engaging with a group of like-minded people that helps members become more self-aware as they hear similar problems to their own being discussed. And indeed, many studies have shown the benefits of belonging to a group and feeling connected can positively impact your mental and physical health, as well as reduce stress, increase internal safety and well-being and build a sense of community.
“Belonging to a group and feeling identified with those in that group is an important aspect of our identity and sense of self. In fact, having a strong sense of group identity can actually help buffer us when we feel wronged or attacked,” according to Psychology Today. Battling loneliness, building support, and creating a group identity can help to give you a sense of purpose and meaning.
Let’s just say it: Being a teacher in 2020 can be a horror
Pandemic, recession, murder hornets, political polarization, racial injustice…and now teachers have to either risks their lives in the classroom or try to corral children into some semblance of virtual learning! From what we’ve heard from teachers who’ve joined our group, you’re not feeling very appreciated for all your efforts.
Many of my clients in my private therapy practice have asked me how to cope during these uncertain times. One piece of advice I’ve given them is to find and cultivate safety and reassurance. For some, that might be family. For others, it might be a group of like-minded humans, like the teachers who join our weekly chats. But the most important thing is to feel that you belong to something greater than yourself.
As sweeping lockdowns and unclear teach-from-home guidelines are in place, teachers don’t get the in-person benefit today of instant camaraderie, especially when they need it the most as they’re faced with puzzling out how to proceed during the pandemic without much direction or organization from most school districts. But things aren’t going to get better unless we work together. So now’s the time to draw on our external resources and seek comfort from people who are experiencing similar issues.
How to get involved in a group for teachers
At our weekly Attentive Talks, teachers have the opportunity to come together and be actively listened to, affirmed, and valued for their contributions to their profession of teaching, walking away from that experience feeling a bit lighter.
Taking care of yourself is an important step in taking care of your students. We hope you’ll join our community of teachers at Attentive Talks each week on Wednesdays at 7:30 EST. Start by joining our private Facebook group where we’ll also be hosting teacher discussions, and that’ll give you access to Attentive Talks video conferencing information.