by Stacy Menzies
Earlier this week, I read an alarming Facebook post. It wasn’t political. It wasn’t about flu season. It was a post from a fellow librarian in my district. She is retiring at the end of the year, and her position will not be filled by a professional librarian. Instead, she will be replaced by a technology teacher. The books will be checked in and out by classroom teachers.
On a personal and professional level, this is disheartening. I began my career as a classroom teacher but have been a librarian who teaches for the last 12 years. Librarians are crucial in the lives and literacy of some of our kids. Both the school in question and my school serve a high poverty population who need the access to books and support that public school librarians provide.
Once the initial shock wore off, I wondered if this was a school decision or a district decision. Knowing that it has been a trend in some districts to phase out librarians, I wanted to know if this was the opening salvo in a battle that needed to be addressed.
I’ve got a great administrative team — when asked, my principal told me I had nothing to worry about. It was the decision of an individual, not the district. And besides, who wouldn’t want me to stay at my school? Okay, I added that but self-confidence is good form of self-care.
It got me to thinking, though. What if my administrative team left and went to a different school? What if I got transferred to another school (it’s happened before–another post for another time)?
I’m not trying to bring the party down or add stress to an already heaping plate. This experience is a good reason to tell you to take care of you on a daily basis. While people may have the greatest of intentions, your job is dependent on so many factors; your administration, your legislators, your colleagues, your students, funding, test scores, etc. Of these, how many are in your control? That’s right, none of them.
Now in your own life, what do you have control over? Your time? Check. Your health? Yup. Your nutrition? Of course. Side hustles or part-time work where you can be your own boss? Yes that too. Finances. Absolutely.
Sometimes it feels like we don’t have the time, resources, support or all of the above to take care of any of this. I’m going to tell you something hard: you do, and you are the only one who does. You have to make the decision that you are going to practice self-care, whether that’s emotional, financial, physical or spiritual. It’s all on you.
Here’s the good news. When you take that amount of power away from another entity and give it back to yourself, it’s incredibly empowering. When you decide you are going to be in charge of your health and wellness or your finances and you take persistent consistent steps to fix what you need to fix, it makes you feel like you can do anything. And you know what? You can do anything. You just have to make you the priority in your life.
For me, I’ve already taken steps to be the healthy person I want to be in all facets of my life. Some days go more smoothly than others but every week I have a plan and every day I work part of that plan so I can reach my goals as soon as possible.
The bonus is, I feel healthy and confident enough to continue taking care of my students and my work and plan on being there as long as they will have me. The difference is, when we part ways, I’m still going to be in amazing shape!
If your job was done away with tomorrow, how would you fare? Would you be ready for the next chapter? Think about it. Create a plan of self-care. Find a tribe to keep you accountable. Better yet, find a buddy and move forward on this journey together. While your work may be able to replace you, the world can’t. Take care of you.
– Stacy Menzies is is Founder and Chief Happbassador of Happy Fix. She is a National Board Certified Teacher with 16+ years experience teaching at the K-12 level and is a thoughtful advocate for her fellow teachers, both in and out of the classroom.