Teaching La Vida Loca

Episode 1: Real Talk: This year sucks! Here's ten tips for protecting your mental and emotional health! 💜

November 25, 2021 Annabelle Season 1 Episode 1
Teaching La Vida Loca
Episode 1: Real Talk: This year sucks! Here's ten tips for protecting your mental and emotional health! 💜
Show Notes Transcript


 This episode is also available on Spotify, and Apple podcasts!


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Click here to access the Breathing Brain Break resource for free!

Click here to connect with me on Instagram!


I'm starting a podcast, y'all. My husband is not as excited as I am. The first thing out of his mouth was "you're starting a podcast. Why? Why, when you've got so much going on?" And the answer is really simple, in a year as unprecedented, and exhausting, mentally emotionally physically draining, as this, the answer as to why I wanted to start a podcast is you because here you are, despite all of the things and all of the feelings and all of the emotions here you are seeking inspiration, seeking connection and community and authenticity. And I want to show up and give that to you. So welcome to the very first episode of my new podcast! 

Welcome to Teaching la Vida Loca, a podcast for World Language Teachers seeking inspiration, unapologetic authenticity and guidance in centering joy and facilitating language acquisition for the people who matter the most, our students, I am your host Lamaze by loca My name is Annabelle. I am a teacher just like you and inspiring educators is what I do. Thanks for joining. 

Welcome to my very first episode, Teaching La Vida Loca, I am so glad that you are here. For my first episode, I really just wanted to focus on real talk. As I said at the beginning, this year has been unmatched and unprecedented in the amount of stress, frustrations, anger, uncertainty that I have felt as an educator and I honestly didn't think it was going to get any worse than last year. But then incomes the 2021 2022 academic year. And boy has it been a roller coaster, to say the very least. So I my first episode, I really just wanted to start with calling it like it is and being authentic with you about my experiences to hopefully validate some of the feelings that you've been having and help you understand that you're not in this alone. I think that we've we've seen that this year. And we've definitely heard it within our buildings. But I want you to know, individually that you are seen and heard and this year is beyond challenging. 

So I wanted to give you 10 tips today that have helped me through this year that have grounded me, that have brought me joy, or that have just centered me in the understanding of what I need to do to be able to stay in this profession for the long run, because that is what I want. Now, having said that, if you have had feelings of frustration to the level of I'm done, I'm out. That's okay, too. Because that's how brutal this year has been. And I would be lying to you if I told you that I haven't also felt those feelings this year. So 10 tips for how I am attempting to center joy, find the positive and move forward in a professional, respectful and gracious way this academic year. 

The first is what I've already mentioned, I'm calling it like it is I'm naming it I'm not trying to sugarcoat things anymore. I'm naming that this is the hardest year I have ever faced. In my profession. I have cried more times that I have since my first year of teaching this year. My husband has heard me complain, whine and, and just explode some nights over my frustrations with school. It's been really, really hard. I've also definitely spoken more way more English than I've ever been used to. In fact, I think me from four years ago and they've been a visitor in my classroom would have been horrified with the amount of English I'm speaking because my goal is to really speak about 95% of the time in the target language. And that was never something hard for me to do. After four years of using acquisition driven instruction in my classroom. It was something I felt manageable, that felt manageable, doable. And really, that is not anywhere close to what I'm doing now. So I'm calling it like it is and I'm not trying to paint a pretty picture. That's tip number one I have for you. 

My second tip is to stop setting unrealistic goals for yourself and for your students. So something I realized I have to do. If I'm not going to be speaking 95% of the class time in the target language, that means my goals for the outcomes have to change for their outcomes for my outcomes, they have to change. Another reason for this is, we would be crazy teaching Lavida. Look, we would be crazy to think that we could do the same things accomplish the same things in a year such as this, when it looks so incredibly different from any year we've ever experienced before. And I'm talking about when you compare that to pre pandemic teaching, oh my gosh, there is no way I can expect of myself or my students, the same things that I did, pre pandemic, that is an essential mind shift that you have to make. If you're going to continue to push through this really challenging year, shift your mindset around what goals or outcomes you have in mind, for your students and for yourself. I'm going to pause and acknowledge here that for some of you, it's not necessarily your goals, it's your school, and the goals they are setting that are unrealistic, but you still have to have that mind shift in in in place to recognize that it is you have to give yourself grace and your students grace for not meeting those. Because in these unprecedented times, there are things that are just going to be unrealistic. And that's okay. 

Tip number three is take your PTO days. I'm gonna say that one again. Take your PTO days, PTO stands for personal time off. If you have sick days, vacation days, whatever the days are, take those days. Now this one has been exceptionally challenging for me this year, personally, and I know for many of you. And the reason for that is I know if I'm out. It's my team that's covering for me with this national sub shortage. This It's no joke. We're exhausted. And on top of our exhaustion of trying to manage our own jobs. We are now being tasked with covering for our co workers when they're out, right. So the idea of taking a personal day feels overwhelming to say the very least overwhelming, we feel a sense of a tremendous sense of guilt if you're any thing like me. You also like is it worth writing those sub plans? Oh, no, oh, no. But it is so important. If you are feeling like I just can't to pause and say, Okay, I'm calling in, use whatever excuse you need to your head is hurting, your kiddo is sick, your dog is sick, I don't know. Find a way to take a day. That's not that hard. And to be honest, I hate that you, you or me or any of us feel like we have to give a reason. They're our days to take and we should absolutely be using them. Now more than ever. So that is my tip number three. 

My next is switching your mindset, again, to a mindset of positivity. And this can be really, really hard. But one of the best things you can do for this is to avoid the really toxic negativity. I'm not saying that we should all be toxically positive. Somebody a few weeks ago told me that that's what I was I was I was I had toxic positivity I said to figure that I have complained so much. I have been very real about my feelings about this year and will continue to however I know that because of the person that I am, if I choose to focus on the negativity and on all of the things that are going wrong this year. I will spiral period. That's it. I cannot afford to spiral. My family cannot afford to have me spiral my students cannot afford to see me spiral into a vortex of negativity. So I am choosing To find the positive things, to focus on what is going right to share gratitude for the things that are going well, or the people who are helping me. And with that mindset shift, I have a much easier time pushing through those really challenging days, if I'm focusing on what's going well, this also means for me, staying out of toxic places, which might be the teachers lounge sometimes, because when we're gathered in the teachers lounge, there is a very easy sort of atmosphere to complain and to whine and to focus on what's not going well. So it might mean staying out of those spaces, or when you enter those spaces, perhaps posing the question, what something that's going really well, was something that happened today. That was awesome, right? So finding ways to make that mind shift, mindset shift to positivity. 

Now, the next is advocate for your time, and your health. So this is semi related to those taking the PTO days. But I want to frame it a little bit differently. I have found myself hiding in my car, during my itty bitty short little lunch periods, because I am advocating for myself in my time and protecting myself in my time as much as possible. Now, I'm a team player, if there ever was one, I want to help my team, I want to help my school. But I know that if I don't have a little bit of time to myself in need in the day, it's going to be another spiral. Now there have been days where many days this year where I haven't had time. But when there's an opportunity for me to run out of the building, and get a breath of fresh air, or walk around the block, just literally walking around the block or shutting myself in my car, and listening to a podcast, or whatever it is to protect my boundaries, and protect my time is so important. Speaking of boundaries, I follow somebody on Instagram, her name is Kayland Lamar. And that's what her Instagram handle is Kayland Lamar, @kaylandlamar . And I asked her if I could share a quote that she shared a few weeks back. She said that she didn't know who originally said it, but the quote is a lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect. Let me say that, again, a lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect. So for me, I am setting boundaries here, because I refuse in a year such as this, to have people disrespect those boundaries. Part of setting boundaries is keeping boundaries, right. So if we're advocating for our time and our mental health, by setting those boundaries, we then have to follow through and keep those boundaries. And that leads me to my sixth tip for you. 

Then my sixth tip is about finding an accountability buddy. Somebody who is going to be your advocate, somebody who is going to push you to stick to those boundaries, and to really hold you accountable for protecting your mental and emotional health. I have an accountability buddy at work, but just in case any of my colleagues decided to listen to this, I'm not going to share their name here. They are my accountability buggy. And we don't share our names at work because we don't want people to find out who we are and then go to us. Because let's say I say no to something. And I set that boundary. And I say I'm sorry, I'm going to need to talk to Oh, I didn't mean to say I'm sorry. Let's rewind that. Thank you for asking, I appreciate that using that I would be the best person for that. I'm going to need to check in with my accountability, buddy before I can say yes or no. So I'm saying I'm going to check in with my accountability buddy. It almost puts like, takes a little bit of the pressure off of you, which makes me feel better personally. But it's allowing me the opportunity to say, you know, I really need to check in with somebody about the boundaries that I've set before I can commit to something extra, especially this year. So the reason I don't share their name is because I don't want them knowing who it is so they can go to them and say, you know, Annabelle is really the only person for this. We need her energy. You know she has such great connections with kids and we just think she'd be perfect for it. I don't want them knowing who to go to So it gives me the opportunity to have that conversation with them, and to talk about it if it's something that I kind of want to do. But I already know what's on my plate. My accountability buddy will be somebody who can say, Annabelle, I know that sounds exciting to you. Because it's another way to connect with kids or whatever the task might be. It's a way to help out your boss or whatever. However, I'm going to push you to remember that boundary that you set about how much time you're spending here. And about going home to your family. And what that looks like. So my accountability buddy has to be somebody who is going to be strong, and remind me of what boundaries I've set and keep me accountable to those accountability, buddy, hence the name right!? 

BRAIN BREAK!!! Did you really think I would start a podcast and not have brain breaks built in. Since this podcast episode is all about tips for grounding yourself and practicing self care and making it through this year I want to share a brain break that I do with my students. But it's also Tip number seven, which is to breathe. So I don't know if you do breathing brain breaks or not with your students. I have a resource where I share my top breathing brain break videos that I can share in the show notes with you if you'd like that resource. But I first really learned about breathing brain breaks. I'm Erica Pinsky, who teaches elementary Spanish in Michigan. And it was really powerful to see her just breathe and coach her students through breathing. Now the first time I saw this, it was on a video on YouTube. And it was really powerful. She coached them in Spanish, but you don't have to do it in the target language you can. Middle schoolers are sometimes silly. So I would say the first 10 times I did a breathing brain break with them. There were some that were really silly about it. But I've done it with enough frequency now that they're not silly, and they're just practicing it with me. And they're practicing being mindful. So what I'll ask you to do right now is to sit up straight wherever you are. square your shoulders. And close your eyes. Don't close your eyes. If you're driving. Oh my gosh. Oh, that just stressed me out. Don't close your eyes. If you're driving, please. Okay, sit up straight, square your shoulders, and breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. So we're gonna inhale again through our nose. Exhale. This time when you breathe out, I want you to send the air as if you're pushing it through a straw. Ready? In one more time. Awesome. Thank you for joining me in that brain. Breathing is tip number seven. And I hope that you feel the power of breathing. And if you haven't ever practiced intentional breathing before, I hope that moving forward you will consider practicing it more often. My mom always tells me it raises my vibrations. So whenever I'm stressed out or she can tell, oh my gosh Annabelle is having a really hard day. She says Pie breathe. Pie is my nickname. Now I've told the world. She says hi breathe. Or she says pi five deep breaths. Or if I'm really in a bad space, she says can you take one? Can you take the time to breathe deeply? Once? No, my mom actually was trained in Reiki several years ago, and that's when she really discovered the power of breathing and raising our vibrations. So whenever you're most stressed out, I encourage you wherever you are to stop. Close your eyes, and try taking three deep breaths. If you have time for 10 do 10 But try breathing, pausing and breathing. Ideally, finding a quiet space is best but that's not always possible, especially for us as educators in our school buildings. That's not always a possibility. But it is definitely so so powerful and I strongly encourage you to try it. 

Now that we've gone through number seven, the next is 8, being fully present. This is my biggest push for myself this year, being fully present in each and every moment. So that means when I am in my car, listening to a podcast or listening to a song, being present, just thinking about that not thinking about the 900 things I'm going to have to do when I get home. When I am with Memphis, and we are snuggling, or, for example, he's napping right now, hence why I am in my daughter's closet closed in recording this. But when he said, Mommy, will you lay with me, and I said, No, honey, I'm gonna go get some work done, okay, have a good nap, stopping, realizing he's only going to be to once sorry, excuse emotional, stopping and laying down and being fully present. So I did lay down with him for 10 minutes. And I helped him and I breathed in the smell of his hair, which wasn't the best smell, but he really needs a bath. But I was fully present. And that's something I'm really pushing myself to practice, especially with my family and friends. When I'm with my friends, putting down my phone, being fully present in the moment with them, when I'm with my family, at the dinner table, not thinking about lists of things that I need to do when the kids go to bed, but really being present at that meal, listening to the conversations that are happening and being fully engaged in those. If you're like me and you're, you have a very busy brain, it's really hard to shut that off. But when we're practicing being present, it allows us to be more intentional with our relationships, more intentional with the time that we are spending with family, with friends. And also being present has also helped me sleep better when I'm pushing myself to focus more on okay, it is time my head is on this pillow. Right now. I am focusing on being present in in resting and in the sleep that I desperately need that my body and my mind and my mentality my emotions desperately need in order to wake up tomorrow morning and have a successful day. So that's number eight, practicing presence. Just two more. 

Tip number nine is to connect. I encourage you this year to connect with other educators who share this mindset shift with you who want to find and seek joy in their days, who want to find those silver linings who are eager to put their own mental health and emotional health first. Now, connecting might be connecting with your accountability buddy, or it might be connecting online. So I'd like to take a moment and say, if you're not connected with me on Instagram or on Facebook, find me now as alumni asstra loca find my account. Let's connect. I would love if you are enjoying this very first episode for you to screenshot it wherever your app you're listening on or take a selfie of you listening to it wherever you are, again, don't take a selfie of your driving. Oh my gosh, please don't make me cause an accident. But take a selfie wherever you are. Or take a screenshot. Tell me who you are where you're listening from. I would love to know. Again my account is La Maestra loca on Instagram and Facebook, la ma e s t r a l o ca La Maestra loca, I'll definitely put the accounts in the show notes as well. But connecting with people is so powerful. And having a community to lean on has been absolutely the most important thing for me this year. My family is essential, obviously. But connecting with other educators who know what I'm dealing with, and who are going through the same things as me has been incredibly important and powerful. And I'm most grateful for my familia, loca, my online PLC community full of educators who are passionate about delivering highly compelling comprehensible input to their students and facilitating language acquisition for them and centering joy in all that they do. I'm so grateful for my PLC community and for my ability to connect with them every week, so grateful for you if you're listening. I love you, familia. 

My last final thing is to share once you've focused on those silver linings once you've found the joy in your day, share that. You don't have to share it publicly, you can keep a gratitude journal. That's something I started doing last year. And I am so glad I did. Every morning, I wake up and I write notes in a gratitude journal about three things that I am grateful for from the last 24 hours. I keep a gratitude journal in the morning, I learned this from Andrea of @positively.winbig on Instagram. And I keep this gratitude journal because it really centers me and grounds me every morning in what went well yesterday and gives me hope for the day moving forward. So that's a private way to share gratitude or to share things that are going well. You can also do this publicly. And I highly encourage this because oh my gosh, it feels so good for you and for others. I pushed myself to write at least one note of gratitude and not a long card, but one note of gratitude as big as a sticky note, to somebody in my building every single week, I push myself to do one if I can do more great. I also push myself to write one note of gratitude, at least per week for my students. And I just stick it in their do now journal, I tape it in there. If I know what locker number that they have, I stick it in there. Just a note to let them know that I'm grateful for them. If you're going to do that, it's really important to keep a log of who you've done this for, so that you can make sure that it's equitable throughout your year and try and try and get all those kiddos because every kiddo deserves to feel seen, heard, loved, cared for valued, empowered. And I think that's really, really important. That wraps up my 10 tips for you to focus on centering joy, and pushing through this incredibly challenging school year. I hope that two or three of them sounded doable to you. If all 10 did great, but I'm still going to encourage you just to choose two or three to really start implementing immediately. Whether that is reframing your mindset around the goals that you have for yourself and your kids. Or perhaps it's shifting your mindset from one of constant negativity to finding those silver linings, finding the joy. Maybe it is sharing more publicly or privately in a gratitude journal. Or maybe it's just remembering to breathe, and stop for a second and raise your vibrations. Regardless of which your takeaways were or which ones you're implementing first, I look forward to connecting with you on social media. All of the links that I talked about, or resources will be shared in the show notes. I'm so grateful for you. I would be remiss if I did not also share a public gratitude. Shout out to my business coach who inspired me to start this podcast. Her name is Alissa McDonald and her Instagram handle is @teacherbynaptime and she is fabulous. And I'm so grateful for her in my life. 

Wherever you are teacher, thank you for listening. Thank you for the work that you do. You inspire me every day to be a better educator, and I am so grateful for you. Until next time, I'll be teaching Lavida loca and I know you will be too

Transcribed by https://otter.ai