Do you put yourself first as a teacher?

I was sitting this morning grading student work in the Mindful Classroom course I created for Wilson College. The teachers had been reading about integrating mindfulness into K-12 education. The article looked at the impact of bringing mindfulness into the classroom.

Mind full or Mindful?

One of the themes that came up over and over again was – when am I going to fit this into my schedule??? As I sat with how to respond to the students, I realized that the way they look at teaching and learning, the classroom, and priorities is so vastly different from that of the microschool builders I know.


When someone realizes they are being called to open a small school, they have already jumped a number of those hurdles I see in my students mind sets. 

The person who is ready to build a school has realized that:

  1. their personal sanity is the first priority in teaching – because their mind state impacts the energy of the classroom (its the old adage: you must put on your own oxygen mask first, before you put on someone else’s)
  2. students are the next priority – that kids can’t focus on content when their basic needs for food, shelter, safety and love are not being met
  3. and that covering content, meeting standards, and passing tests do not necessarily create a happy, focused, and independent learners who will be successful in life

Once a teacher has realized that the system can’t save them, that they can only save themselves – the pathway forward towards building a school becomes clearer. Once a teacher realizes that in taking responsibility for their own happiness, and then that of their students makes learning a joy, they begin to dream of doing something different…


My response to my students wasn’t what you might expect. I didn’t tell them they are focused on the wrong thing. I didn’t tell them that they were putting content before themselves and their students. I actually asked them to look at their personal experience in the course – having been given a requirement to try on and practice mindfulness for themselves, but with full autonomy over what, how and when. In each case – these teachers are reporting more calm, joy, happiness and space in their lives. My hope is, they will begin to see that I’ve put a high priority on them, vs. the content in the course, modeling the way out of the mind trap they’ve created for themselves. I’m hopeful a few will see the light. Perhaps a few of them will decide to build a microschool of their own one day!

PS: I’d love to hear your thoughts about putting yourself first as a teacher. Hit reply and let me know what you think!

And, if you have decided that the system can’t put students first, and that building a microschool where you’ll place a priority on your own well being and that of students you serve is for you, please book a free 30-minute call with me so that I can offer help.

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