Workshops at the CEA Summer Conference help members learn more about leadership roles in the union and how to improve their craft as education professionals. This year one session also addressed the constant stress many teachers are facing.
“The number one thing that we see when we meet with teachers these days is an incredibly high level of stress,” says CEA UniServ Rep Mike Casey, a co-presenter of the workshop.
A poll of teachers out this week from PDK found that 50 percent have seriously considered leaving the profession, and one of the top reasons teachers site for wanting to leave is the stress, pressure, and burnout associated with the job.
To work toward relieving some of that stress, Casey and fellow UniServ Rep Chris Teifke offered teachers instruction in meditation, tai chi, and yoga.
“We wanted to give an introductory-level class so that teachers could develop a practice and take this stuff home with them,” Casey says.
“While meditation and mindfulness are the ultimate initial foundation, yoga and tai chi have a physical component many people enjoy,” says Teifke. “We wanted to give teachers as many options as possible, in the time available, for ways to reduce stress.”
Casey says that, while he has been meditating for 17 years, he just started to practice yoga a couple of years ago. “We wanted to show that everybody can do this. It doesn’t require a big investment—you can do it at home.”
“Right now teachers are really struggling with self care, so learning techniques to take time for ourselves to feel more energized and fight teacher burnout is very helpful,” says Bolton teacher Abbey Sacco.
Sacco says she has done yoga for a long time, but signed up for the session because she wanted to learn more about meditation.
“I found that I really liked the tai chi—I hadn’t done that before,” Sacco says. “I found the movement was useful for not constantly over thinking while meditating.”
Windsor teachers Shannon Brown and Lisa Bishop found the workshop useful both personally and professionally.
“I’m leading a mindfulnesss group for students at my school, and so I came to get a fresh perspective,” says Brown. “I do yoga regularly but I’ve never done tai chi.”
“I’ve never done any of this before. I loved it,” says Bishop. “I liked the yoga for me, I enjoyed the movement, and the mindfulness—I can see myself fitting a few minutes into the classroom with students.”
“These activities are practical for teachers,” adds Brown. “We can benefit from lowering our stress levels and then share the practices with students.”