HI I’M DANIELLE NUHFER AND I HELP TEACHERS REDUCE STRESS AND BURNOUT WHILE FINDING AND SUSTAINING BALANCE AND WELLNESS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM.
Through mindfulness, self-care, strength finding, and compassion practices, Teaching Well is here to help teachers and their students cultivate a greater sense of well-being.
Through learning how to positively manage stress; find work-life balance; and collectively meet the needs of our students, families and ourselves, we will lessen teacher burnout and increase classroom job satisfaction.
As a classroom teacher for over sixteen years, I have witnessed my own wellness fluctuate when I felt trapped under the stresses of daily classroom teaching and demands. In fact, I would say that I went through two bouts of burnout.
My first round of burnout seemed to stem from an overwhelming amount of life stuff coupled by the stresses of teaching. I was in my mid 20s, in a highly stressful teaching job that I absolutely loved at a school that was wonderful. I actually left a more stressful job and got my dream job. But that didn’t keep me from burning out.
I don’t know what came first the school stress or life stress but they all compounded and I found myself in my principal’s office because he was concerned about some things that were going on.
This was at the end of the school year. I knew if something didn’t change that summer, I wouldn’t be able to make it another school year.
It was a long road but I found the help that I needed through therapy and developing some important routines…specifically some kind of morning routine.
I ended up not leaving my teaching job and really turned a corner those next few years both personally and professionally.
But what happens when you start to feel better…you start to forget and maybe you start to not do all the things that you know were keeping you healthy before.
For me the second burnout almost shape shifted. Instead of it being a combination of personal and professsional…I’m certain the second round came because my personal life was going great. I was feeling good.
Professionally I was getting asked to take on added responsibilities, lead clubs and do other things that added to my plate. To be honest it was an ego boost. I was important.
With these responsibilities also came working with even more students and all of the trauma and stress that they carry. I was a teacher that they wanted to talk with. This was even more added stress as I tried to make sure they got the help they needed or were seen and heard.
Where five years before I was a new teacher, melting in a puddle of overwhelm and needing to prove herself everywhere. Now, I was looked at as competent and deserving. How could I say no?
So the accolades and pats on the back were enough for me to say yes. And, I could have said no. There were plenty of competent, deserving teachers who would have gladly taken on something I couldn’t. My ego wouldn’t allow it. I do remember a nagging voice trying to get my attention and saying, nothing else, please don’t add anymore but I thought I was superwoman.
Then the end of the summer of 2014 came and I was paralyzed about going back to work. I couldn’t face another year of being pulled in all directions. Honestly I was ready to quit before I even got started.
The crazy thing about this is that I didn’t even see it then as all the things I was holding together as the cause. I didn’t even see it as an option just let some of those responsibilities go and then teaching would be okay. As I sat in anxiety and overwhelm I was the closest I had ever come to not going back. I think again, my ego was too strong to allow me to say no give the reins to someone else.
So I did go back, but I actually made a firm decision to do something that I had always thought of doing but never thought I would take the leap and do. A colleague of mine had gone on a sabbatical and she shared with me what an amazing experience it was. And how much her relationship with teaching had changed as the result of the experience.
So, I thought maybe a sabbatical would be the happy medium between me staying and just drowning in my own stress and burnout and leaving a profession that I cared about so deeply. It would give me the space I needed.
So I was able to go on sabbatical for two consecutive spring semesters. And that’s when I truly discovered and dove deep into what has been my life’s work ever since…mindfulness for educators.
As part of my sabbatical requirement, I had to take courses. I had been exposed to mindfulness (that was part of me daily morning routine) but didn’t really understand how it could help me specifically as a teacher in my classroom.
During my sabbatical, I got a degree in Mindfulness for Experienced Educators, Positive Psychology and became a certified Mindfulness instructor through the organization Mindful Schools.
When I dive in…I dive deep!
This experience allowed me to begin developing courses for teachers on mindfulness in the classroom and created Teaching Well. The mission of Teaching Well is to empower teachers to care for themselves first so that we can be our best both inside and outside the classroom.
Through those experiences, I learned a lot that I can teach to students but the most important lesson I learned is that if I’m not healthy, balanced and well…I am not being the most effective teacher I can be. So here’s what I’ve learned, I need to put the oxygen mask on myself before I can begin to truly resuscitate those children in my classroom. And that’s why I started Teaching Well, so that I could work with other teachers who are feeling inundated with the stress of the job but love what they do and want to do it in the most healthy way possible.
I know it’s hard to figure out how to begin balancing and caring for yourself, but that’s what Teaching Well is here to help you with. You’re not being asked to figure out how to do this on your own.
Teaching Well will provide you with resources, inspiration and support that will help you on your journey to reducing stress and increasing well-being. Just show up with an open mind and heart and hopefully you will find a path that will help you on this journey to reclaiming your wellness. At its most literal level, you could visualize this site as a “well” to go to when you need some refueling.
So whether it be joining the We are Teaching Well Facebook group, getting one of our FREE resources, reading the Blog for information and inspiration, taking an Online Course to learn about these techniques at your own pace, having Teaching Well present to your school faculty, teach your students some of these practices, or enlisting my help with one of the teacher programs available, I hope that you find something that will speak to you and encourage you to continue Teaching Well!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on your journey to decreased stress and increased well-being.