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Concerned Admin Addresses Teachers, “You Deserve Paid Mental Health Days”


Concerned Admin Addresses Teachers, "You Deserve Paid Mental Health Days"

Dear Teachers,

I’m concerned about you and the absence of mental health days available to you. COVID has pushed you harder than ever before. It has taken an extremely challenging profession and made it even harder. When I visit your classrooms, I see the immense effort that you are putting in to meet the diverse needs of your students, both virtual and in person. When I pass you in the hallways, I see the look of exhaustion on your face hidden under the smile that you flash because you think it is the professional thing to do. I see you working through lunch, working after school, working on weekends. I see you shouldering all of the pressure placed on you as best that you can. I see you.

I want you to know that teachers are the most valuable assets we have.

Without you, there is no learning. Kids will have no reason to wake up each day bursting with excitement to go to school. There will be no one pushing students to overcome challenges. And no one reporting student success stories. Without you, there are no adults coming back years later to visit their old school to share how proud they are of what they have accomplished…accomplishments they made because of you.

You deserve mental health days built into the school calendar.

The rest of us need to do more to support you. Change is desperately needed or we risk losing you. Good teachers are hard enough to find and even harder to keep. More and more of you are leaving the profession every year. Not because you have stopped caring about your students but because you have reached the point where you can’t handle “just one more thing”.

Your mental and emotional health have a direct impact on the mental and emotional health of your students. This holds true with your families as well. We have to find a way to prioritize this moving forward. The rigor of this job won’t get any easier, so we have to look for ways to help you cope appropriately. This is an essential part of adapting to change and navigating adversity. But most importantly, this is how we continue to stay joyous and energized by this work.

Administrators Need to Normalize a Work-Life Balance

I am not advocating for more vacation days for teachers because – let’s be honest – you will just work during those days anyway. I am advocating for mental health days designed for reflection, stress release, and meditation (however that looks for you). I am encouraging districts to provide guidance on what these days should look like and educate teachers on the personal and professional benefits of utilizing this time to decompress. Teachers need “permission” from their school leaders to unplug, leave the work at school, spend time with their families, and reset their emotional clocks.

As a country, we can’t afford to continue losing highly qualified and highly experienced teachers to other professions.

And as school leaders, we can’t afford to watch our teachers get swallowed up by the challenges of the day. We must advocate for new ways of protecting our students and teachers by pushing for more open thinking around the need for teacher mental health days. This is not about innovation; this is about basic human needs. And it is just the right thing to do.

Teachers, I see you. I appreciate you and I’m advocating for you. Thank you for all you do.

Signed,

A Concerned Administrator

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Concerned Admin Addresses Teachers, "You Deserve Paid Mental Health Days"

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Chris Cochran

Senior Member

Father, Husband, Amateur Adventurer, Aspiring Creative.  School Leader living in Northwest Arkansas.  Drinks coffee all day.

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