Taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of others

Construction site

Take care of yourself. Take care of others. In so many words that’s what this sign—which I’ve seen posted on local construction sites—reminds workers to do.

“Take care of yourself, take care of others” is also a way of life in schools that support the success of all students and staff members, a way of being together that improves the quality of learning and relationships in classrooms and within the school community as a whole.

Taking care of others, I am confident, was a reflexive reaction during the past week as schools across the United States and around the world grieved the students and staff members of Sandy Hook Elementary School and sought comfort with one another.

Putting others before self is a default setting for most teachers and principals, as it was at Sandy Hook. But it’s a practice that over time can have a devastating effect on one’s physical and emotional well being.

Because taking care of ourselves is ultimately a precondition for taking care of others, I hope the upcoming holiday break provides educators with abundant opportunities for physical, emotional, and spiritual renewal.

Such replenishment is essential even during the best of times. And these have not been the best of times.

3 Responses to “Taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of others”

  1. 1 G. Michael Abbott December 21, 2012 at 6:29 am

    I’m retired from teaching now, but I remember how exhausted I would be by the time vacations came around. Teaching is a noble profession, demanding focus and constant interaction with students, parents, and other educators. Today there is a tendency of privatizers to make teaching mechanical by scripting lessons and testing, testing, testing. This takes the heart and soul out of teaching and is harmful to children and devastating to thinking professionals. Today teachers need even more opportunity for physical, emotional, and spiritual renewal. Good advice, Dennis.


  2. 2 Ruth Luttmer December 21, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Dennis, thank you for putting into words what we all truly know is important but rarely put into practice. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and health and happiness in the new year.

  3. 3 Kent Peterson January 7, 2013 at 11:09 am

    “Taking care of oneself” seems selfish, but for caretakers and caregivers it is a key action to replenish and recharge. This is the paradox of giving. Taking time to replenish one’s energy is necessary to give to others.

    Kent Peterson
    Author of “Shaping School Culture: Pitfalls, Paradoxes and Promises,” (with Terrence Deal)

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