D. Stress Throughout the Career Cycle

Introduction

The first stage of compassion fatigue is the Zealot Stage which often describes early career educators. The beginning years of an education career provide the opportunity to learn specific compassion resilience strategies that can support well-being, effectiveness in the classroom, and longevity in the field.


B. Foundational Beliefs About Behavior

Introduction

One driver of compassion fatigue for anyone who seeks to offer support to others is their beliefs about behavior and what supports desired behaviors. If educators approach children, parents, or colleagues with the wrong belief about what problematic behavior means and requires, it is like beating their head against a wall and coming up empty-handed and exhausted. If your school has not spent time recently reviewing foundational beliefs about children’s behavior, consider presenting this slideshow and leading a brief discussion at your next staff meeting. 


A. Making and Supporting Change

Introduction

Whether we are growing our compassion resilience to prevent compassion fatigue or to address existing compassion fatigue, this intentional shift often includes changing attitudes and behaviors that no longer serve us well. The Stages of Change offers a model for people to understand the complex path towards successful change and how to support our own change efforts as well as the change efforts of colleagues and those we
supervise. This model identifies effective action and responses at each stage to avoid the unintended negative consequences of mismatched efforts.

James Prochaska, John Norcross and Carlo DiClemente are the researchers and architects of the Stages of Change model. It is also known as the Transtheoretical Model. The model assesses an individual’s readiness to act on a new healthier behavior, and provides strategies, or processes of change to guide the individual through the stages of change to Action and Maintenance.


Information

The Stages of Change Powerpoint provides an overview of the Stages of Change model. View the slides in the mode that allows you to read the notes for each slide.


Applications

Leadership Activity

What’s the Stage? What’s My Response? This brief activity lists statements to practice identifying the stage they represent. It will build leaders’ ability to identify what stage someone is at so they can choose effective supports for that person’s desired behavior change. Pages two and three provide a chart that takes the statements from the What Stage activity and suggests helpful responses to support that person in their current stage of change.

Staff Activity

Navigating Your Way Through the Stages of Change handout that describes each stage and gives self-help hints for those looking at their own change behaviors and hints for how to help others as they navigate change.

Individual Reflection Worksheet The individual names a target change and goal behavior, identifies the stage of their current change, and completes questions based on their stage of change.

12. Building Compassion-Based Relationships with Caregivers

Introduction

Throughout this section, caregiver is used to represent parents, legal guardians, grandparents, and whomever is the primary caregiver for a student.

The opportunities educators have for relationships with students’ caregivers can leave them vulnerable to compassion fatigue too. The drivers of compassion fatigue around caregivers can be very similar to those that drive compassion fatigue around students. When we come to understand the trauma families face, try to meet unrealistic expectations of those relationships, and/or feel ineffective in building positive relationships with caregivers, it can lead to behaviors that are signs of compassion fatigue. We do not have to look far to hear educators blaming caregivers, using the home life as an excuse for lowered expectation of students, and not wanting to get to know the family context of their students. Of course, the same is true in reverse. It is not uncommon to hear caregivers blaming educators for the challenges their children face and spending time building fences rather than bridges.



Applications

Key Activity

Compassionate Connection to Caregivers Activity – activity for a staff meeting

Wellness Practice

Bringing It All Together Through My Hands — An activity to summarize compassion and self-compassion found in the document to distribute in the information section of the toolkit

Circle Agenda

Staff Circle Agenda, Section Twelve

Supplementary Activities/Handouts

Communicating with Caregivers When There is a Challenge – Handout and possible role-play activity

What to do when I feel attacked by a parent? – Professionally Speaking Article
This is an example of setting compassionate boundaries with caregivers.

Video of Teacher Care Meetings Strategy – Collaborative school, parent and student meeting to support positive changes

Stages of Change Applied to Caregiver Conversations


11. Wellness and Resilience Strategies: Heart

Introduction

In the compass model, the four sectors, Mind, Spirit, Strength and Heart, not only contribute to your overall wellness, but also provide guidance on strategies to help build your compassion resilience. Heart is one of the sectors. This section will take a deeper look at our emotions, and our relationships, both with ourselves and with others. We will be invited to focus on our self-compassion as we seek to be compassionate in our relationships with students, families and colleagues.



Applications

Key Activity

A Self-Compassion Exercise (10min)

Self-Compassion Self-Scoring Scale (Dr. Neff)
If Self-Compassion Scale was completed in Section 2, use DPI’s emotional regulation plans listed in the Supplementary Activities/Handouts section as your key activity asking staff to complete one for themselves.

Wellness Practice

Mindful Self-Compassion Break

Circle Agenda

Staff Circle Agenda, Section Eleven 

Core Content Visual

Colleague Conversations – Use this Visual and Display in Staff Break Areas
Posting this visual in common staff areas will serve as a reminder of content covered to staff and perhaps serve as a future conversation started for deeper reflection among staff members. 

Supplementary Activities/Handouts

Department of Public Instruction’s Emotional Regulation Plan
Use DPI’s emotional regulation plans asking staff to complete one for themselves.

 


Links

Links Specifically for Leadership

Fostering Relationship Building among Staff

 

Additional Resources

This article explains the importance of communication: 7 things to avoid, 11 things to keep in mind.

This article offers a brief introduction and tips for developing better communication skills through structured dialog and communicating your trust distinctions.

For more excellent resources on self-compassion go to Dr. Kristin Neff’s website

 

10. Wellness and Resilience Strategies: Strength

Introduction

In the compass model, the four sectors, Mind, Spirit, Strength and Heart, not only contribute to your overall wellness, but also provide guidance on strategies to help build your compassion resilience. Strength is one of the sectors. Strength encompasses stress resilience and care for the body. Stress resilience allows us to maintain a level of calm as we encounter the inevitable stressors of our job. Developing our ability to care for our bodies and listen to the signs that our bodies give us, support our whole health and minimize any unhealthy responses to stress. Becoming stress resilient and caring for our bodies often require assistance from others. Help seeking is a key skill for both of the areas in the strength section of the Wellness Compass.



Applications

Key Activity

Listening and Responding to Stress in Your Body (10-15 min)

Wellness Practice

Care for Body – Develop Your Plan (10-15 min)

Circle Agenda

Staff Circle Agenda, Section Ten

Core Content Visual 

Choose Nourishing vs. Depleting! – Use this Visual and Display in Staff Break Areas
Posting this visual in common staff areas will serve as a reminder of content covered to staff and perhaps serve as a future conversation started for deeper reflection among staff members. 

Supplementary Activities/Handouts

Writing and Sharing Staff Resilience Stories (30-60 min)
One of our pilot schools for this toolkit experimented with an activity that went so well, they want to share it with other schools. Staff were asked to write a short story about an obstacle they faced and overcame. The stories were submitted anonymously and shared with students by random staff in various classes. The next day the homeroom teachers led a community building circle to talk about what the students had heard and what it meant to them.

Why it is so hard for teachers to take care of themselves

 


Links

 

Additional Resources

This article discusses the stages of change applied to emotional resilience. The website offers many brief articles on topics included in this toolkit.

9. Wellness and Resilience Strategies: Spirit

Introduction

Spirit is one of the four sectors of the compass model for self-care. Each area contributes to and helps build our compassion resilience. Spirit encompasses connecting to our sense of purpose with intentionality, exposing ourselves to resilience in those we serve, and recreating ourselves through rest and play.



Applications

Key Activity

Sharing Stories of Resilience (5-10 min)
Institute the regular practice of sharing stories about current and past students’ resilience.

Wellness Practice

Developing Your Professional Mission Statement (15-30 min)

Circle Agenda

Staff Circle Agenda, Section Nine

Core Content Visual to Display in Common Staff Areas

Rest and Play Reflection – Use this Visual and Display in Staff Break Areas
Posting this visual in common staff areas will serve as a reminder of content covered to staff and perhaps serve as a future conversation started for deeper reflection among staff members. 

Supplementary Activities/Handouts 

Book study (30-60min)


8. Wellness and Resilience Strategies: Mind

Introduction

“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration, and resentment.” – Dale Carnegie

“The calm and balanced mind is the strong and great mind; the hurried and agitated mind is the weak one.” – Wallace D. Wattles

The four sectors of the compass model -Mind, Spirit, Strength and Heart- not only contribute to our overall wellness, but also provide guidance on strategies to help build our compassion resilience. Before delving in further, you may want to take a self-assessment of your current wellness practices (attached). Hold onto this and notice if any that you marked as “this never occurred to me” change as you encounter the next four sections of the toolkit.

Mind is the first sector we will explore. Being resilient in this area is exemplified by being well-organized, engaging in meaningful work, and being fully present in the moment. As we learned in Section 1, mindful self-awareness is a contemplative practice of being intentionally aware in the present moment. We have practiced strategies to enhance our mindfulness in various sections of the toolkit. Mindful self-awareness is a key skill for the Mind Section area as well as those that follow: Spirit, Strength, and Heart.



Applications

Key Activity

Appreciative Inquiry Reflection on Competence (15 mins-45 mins)

Wellness Practice

Wellness Compass Practices Assessment

Circle Agenda

Staff Circle Agenda, Section Eight

Core Content Visual to Display in Common Staff Areas

Mindsets – Use this Visual and Display in Staff Break Areas
Posting this visual in common staff areas will serve as a reminder of content covered to staff and perhaps serve as a future conversation started for deeper reflection among staff members. 

Supplementary Activities/Handouts

Power of the Positive Word (15 minutes-30 minutes)

Practicing Mindfulness – The Body Scan and Pause (3-10 minutes)


Links

Links Specifically for Leadership

Name and Celebrate Staff Competence

Showing appreciation to your staff and fellow co-workers is a part of a healthy, productive, and encouraging work culture. Here are some options to encourage appreciation and focus on the specific competencies of staff or staff teams that combine to produce your school’s positive outcomes.

  1. Create a process where staff can nominate each other for staff appreciation
  2. Create and maintain an ongoing list of assets of your team or workplace — Something everyone can add to and see in the teachers’ common gathering space
  3. Develop a gratitude board, or employ other strategies to foster a workplace attitude of gratitude, such as the ideas provided here

Additional Resources

Link to resources, videos, and tools to learn more about and develop a growth mindset.

Short video on using mindfulness in teaching practice.