August 21, 2021

The Art of Putting Yourself first: a Survival Guide for Teachers. 


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One of the top myths that keep teachers from feeling alive and making an impact is putting our well-being last.

I get it. In my 20 years as an educator, I have been there.

As educators, our profession falls under the realm of “society’s givers,” and we are conditioned to believe that selflessness is a service. We serve to the point of overwhelm and exhaustion.

This selflessness in service results in an overextended and taxed nervous system. We can see our nervous system as our body’s motherboard. It dictates how we move through life and manage stress.

When we put ourselves last and are at a point of overload, adrenal hormones are released consistently and our nervous system moves into survival mode. Survival mode, meant for protecting us from predators, is now the norm as we navigate the overwhelm of classroom demands.

Our nervous system is designed to operate in survival mode only for a short amount of time, as it requires a large amount of energy. When our nervous system operates in survival mode for an extended period of time, this becomes the baseline for where our nervous system sits, our capacity to handle challenges decreases tremendously, and our emotional resilience wanes.

Our current educational system is based on the industrial model, conceptualized during the industrial revolution. The industrial model honors production, top-down hierarchical dynamics, and conformity to the norm.

Teaching, grading, working to the point of overload, and being “available” for our students to the point of our exhaustion has become a badge of honor and the product of our current system.

However, in the new paradigm of teaching, we seek to honor connection to the self and others over production. We seek to dismantle the hierarchy within and around us by embodying and teaching radical self-responsibility and interdependence.

What can happen in the classroom when we become aware of our nervous system’s state on a moment by moment basis?

The results of becoming aware of your nervous system state permeates through every part of your life, most notably, the capacity at which we can face challenges with ease and grace.

However, it is also important to note that the point of your nervous system is also a point of connection between teacher and student.

What is a connection?

A connection to others is an energetic and feeling-based sentiment where you communicate intimately and honestly and feel a flow of love and safety between someone else and yourself.

As a teacher, when you are present and aware of what is happening in your body, you are able to connect with your students. This connection is an example of co-regulation between nervous systems. When the student feels safe and connected, their ability to learn and understand concepts greatly increases.

It is powerful to transmit knowledge from this state.

If you, as an educator, are overwhelmed, your nervous system will connect with your students’ nervous system. This means that your sense of overwhelm will connect to their feelings of overwhelm.

It is challenging to transmit knowledge in this state.

By asking the question throughout the day, “What state is your nervous system in right now?” we are able to discern and become connected to the state of our nervous system.

At New Paradigm Teaching Institute, we promote a radically different understanding of Classroom Leadership. We guide educators to unearth themselves from society’s veil of conditioning of what a “teacher should be” to create the life they want.

To detach ourselves and our worth from stories and myths like the one above.

To live to our full potential in all aspects of our life.

We seek to change our classroom environment by putting teachers’ well-being as the cornerstone of our programs.

We turn the lens toward the internal landscape of the teacher, developing impeccable internal leadership.

Change your internal environment.

Change your classroom environment.


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