One of the joys of gathering stories for the Teachers Talking About Self-compassion series includes the opportunity to look back on how I met the teachers who accept my request or volunteer to answer the three questions. To date, I have only physically met one teacher, and “meet” with the other two (found here and here) regularly via our favourite social networks.
This is how I met Hana Tichá: through one of our favourite online venues, blogging. Her blog, “How I see it now” came to my attention when we both decided to join the Reflective Practice Blog Challenge set out by John Pfordresher. I quickly learned that Hana brings care, mindfulness, and love to each word she types. I’ve also learned that many people, including me, are very appreciative of these words. They expand our heart and mind, and make our days a bit brighter.
Keep reading. You’ll understand what I mean.
Note: This is Hana’s second #RedThumbForLove snapshot. You can find her first one here.
In what country or countries do you currently teach or in what countries have you taught? What subject or skills do you teach or have you taught?
To the online world, I like to introduce myself as an English as a foreign language teacher, but here in the Czech Republic I consider myself to be a subject teacher of English at a secondary school.
In the past, I worked freelance and had classes of very small kids as well as adults of all ages and occupations. Currently, I’m working in the state sector of education and teach children aged 11-19. I’m a homeroom teacher to a class of 14-year olds, which I’m extremely proud of. I’m also the head of the English Department at our institution, which, on the other hand, yields more responsibility than pleasure.
What strategies do you use to practice self-compassion/self-care?
When I’m emotionally shattered or worried about work, the first thing I do is go and talk to my friends and colleagues. As a rule, they are usually more compassionate than I am self-compassionate.
Reading blogs of like-minded educators has a particularly soothing effect, too. People like Zhenya Polosatova, Anne Hendler, Kevin Stein, Anna Loseva, Rose Bard, you, Josette, and many more always lift my spirits when I feel I’m getting off the right track. Also, writing my own blog helps me see things from a different perspective. I’m particularly grateful for the comments I get from fellow bloggers, especially for their message: Don’t worry; we’re in the same boat.
But sometimes I just grab a book that is not education-related: a novel, even something esoteric. There’s a copy of Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness sitting on my bedside table and I read it whenever I need to take a break from the stressful, material world or when I need to remind myself of the importance of compassion and love in a human’s life.
Why is self-compassion/self-care important to you in terms of the work you do as a teacher?
Although they look similar on paper, compassion and self-compassion produce very different emotions which don’t have the same healing effect. When my colleague expresses a deep feeling for my suffering and misfortune, it helps a lot, but only temporarily. Self-compassion, on the other hand, has a permanent remedial effect. I believe that self-compassion changes you gradually and completely while constant compassionate comments from your colleagues may sometimes result in your stagnation.
To be honest, I’m not a naturally self-compassionate person; I tend to mercilessly judge and criticize myself and then I like to revel in self-pity for a while. This is not very helpful if you are a full-time teacher. A lot happens during the day at school and especially the emotional part of it can be overwhelming. In such conditions, a minor incident easily becomes a terrible disaster in your eyes and it affects your mood and sense of self-worth for a couple of days.
To conclude, I would say that the hardest part of any reflection process, which, to me, is synonymous with self-care, is forgiving. I believe that we constantly need to learn to forgive ourselves for being imperfect. Actually, why should we strive for perfection at all given that perfection kills, but wisdom makes a mistake every day?