BOOKS

Cover of Teaching Well
Teaching Well
Lisa Bush. Pembroke Publishers, 2019. 115 pages, $24.95.
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Reviewed by Anna Armstrong

Take a good look at your to-do list. Is it full of never-ending preparation, lesson planning, marking, errands, activities, social events and obligations? Is self-care even on your list? Or is self-care something you get to only if everything else gets finished? 

Teaching Well gives teachers permission to put themselves first, and this year an educator’s well-being will be more important than ever. Whether you love to swim, knit, play volleyball, cook or cycle in the great outdoors, author Lisa Bush argues that the time you set aside for yourself is the most important part of your day. 

Oxygen Mask Theory 101: You must help yourself before you are able to help others. Well-rested, healthy teachers who regularly make time for themselves and their passions are happier and more fulfilled. This ripples into the classroom because teachers who are positive, passionate and able to handle daily challenges will model these characteristics and create better learning environments for their students.

This evidence-based book examines everything from shifting expectations of what an excellent teacher is, to never underestimating the four pillars of health (sleep, stress management, nutrition, water), to setting non-negotiable boundaries. It asks educators to prioritize tasks (re-examining and decluttering long-range plans), maximize collaboration to reduce workload, teach wellness strategies and good learning habits to students and develop a culture of wellness within the school community. Several practical suggestions from a fourth-generation teacher provide accessible ways to get started.

Questions posed throughout this book will help you to reflect on your teaching practices and eliminate – Marie Kondo style – everything in your teaching life that does not bring you joy. Okay, there is no way to eliminate those pesky report cards, but at least this book will help you focus on what really matters: your relationship with your students and their learning.

Teaching Well will help new teachers form good healthy habits and well-seasoned teachers reclaim their personal time. Follow the tips and tricks in this book and before you know it, your to-do list will be ta-done! 

Anna Armstrong is a member of the Upper Grand Teacher Local.

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