You must take care of yourself first and foremost.

Today is the first official day back for all New York City teachers and I want to wish all my teacher friends an amazing school year filled with rich conversations, exponential learning growth, a positive outlook, but most importantly self-maintenance.

With it being the first day back, I am filled with gratitude and with sadness. Gratitude that I do not have to be back in a toxic environment but sadness due to the fact that I will not be able to interact with my beloved students and colleagues on a daily basis. As I sit here and reflect about this occasion I have to think of the well-beings of all the teachers across America and across the world: Please take care of yourself.

As a teacher, we are taught by society that we need to sacrifice our time, our money and our energy or we are made to feel not “good enough”. This toxic mentally continues to affect how we treat teachers and how teachers treat each other and ultimately themselves. But the one thing I have learned throughout my years teaching, is that this is utterly bullshit.

How are we supposed to be good educators when we cannot even take care of ourselves? How can we give our best to students if we can’t give the best to ourselves? We are constantly taught that the “I” comes first, but that whole idea is thrown out the window if you’re a teacher. You are made to feel that the sacrifices you make will be good for society, good in the long run for everyone involved. But what about you? WHAT ABOUT YOU?

If you are a teacher, caregiver, wife, mother, father, a nurse, anyone who takes care of others, I want you to know that YOU ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS EVERYONE ELSE. Do not allow anyone to make you feel guilty about not taking work home, saying “no” to something that pushes your limit, or walking away from anything that depletes you. You must take care of yourself first and foremost.

We can not give our best if we are not at our best. People who try to push us or make us feel guilty about taking care of ourselves need to learn to SHUT THE FUCK UP. And we must learn to tell them to FUCK OFF. I know I am being quite vulgar right now but I really do not give a shit. I realize that we can not allow other people’s views to dictate who we are or how we want to act. If we feel that people are constantly pushing our buttons and consistently trying to hurt us, we really need to just tell them to shove it and then walk away.

So, teacher friends, take time out in the school year for YOU. Say no to shit that doesn’t bring you joy. Learn to self-advocate and tell people what you need and do not need. We have to learn to stick up for ourselves or manipulators will just take advantage of our kindness. Never allow anyone to take away your personal time, your energy and your boundaries you have set up for yourself. If you do, you will end up exhausted everyday with hardly anything to show for it and it will ultimately affect your job and your home life. It isn’t worth it to deplete yourself and to give yourself to everything and everyone else. Take care of you this year and I will be here to continuously remind you to do so. – Peace and Love

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