Briarcliff High School Teachers use the CARE Program for Self-Care
The beginning of the year is a very busy time for teachers, as they prepare their classrooms and materials for the arrival of students. Sometimes, however, teachers – like most of us – forget to pause and take care of themselves.
Several days before the school year began, Briarcliff High School social worker Tim Pellegrin organized a workshop aimed at helping teachers develop skills and strategies to deal with stressors related to teaching during the pandemic.
“The pandemic created additional and intense challenges; there was so much for people to juggle and it took a toll on the well-being of many. Our faculty and staff work incredibly hard and we can be resilient, but we are not invincible,” Mr. Pellegrin said. “I thought it was important to focus on faculty and staff wellness to begin this school year and provide some time and space to reflect as a team while learning tools for self-care.”
CARE (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education) is a unique professional development program that helps teachers handle the stresses and rediscover the joys in teaching. Its goal is to offer teachers tools and resources for reducing stress, preventing burnout, enlivening teaching and helping students thrive socially, emotionally and academically.
Sharon Comblo, history teacher and senior intern coordinator, found the workshop very useful.
“This program was extremely effective,” she said. “As educators, we are all so excited to come in to the school in person and be together with the students and we are always forward-looking – we are always planning and prepping, but this workshop helped us recognize that we need to take time for self-care.”
According to Ms. Comblo, the workshop served as a reminder that the pandemic affected everyone and that instead of suppressing it, teachers should recognize and acknowledge their own stressors and anxiety and learn strategies that can help them take care of themselves.
“As part of the workshop, we did meditation and breathing exercises, that, to me, were very beneficial,” she said.
In the workshop, the instructor discussed putting “self-care” on the to-do list and making it a daily activity.
“We are so motivated to take care of our students but our social emotional well-being is also important and there are different strategies for dealing with stress,” Ms. Comblo said. “Dedicating time for self-care is important.”
Ms. Combo acknowledges that the past year-and-a-half have been stressful for many educators.
“We are all type-A personalities here, we all want to give our best and give 200% but there is a cost to that, and we need to recognize that,” she said. “Tim is an advocate of supporting teachers and the district as a whole is behind it.”
In order to provide the training, Mr. Pellegrin applied for a Teachers Institute Grant.
“We want to give a big thanks to the Briarcliff Manor Education Fund for its generous support,” he said. “This was invaluable training and we are incredibly grateful.”
Ms. Comblo is looking forward to the second part of the workshop.
“I am thrilled that there are plans to possibly have a follow-up workshop later in the school year,” she said. “It is so helpful to teachers. If the teacher is in a good place, that has a positive influence on the students as well.”