Whether it is a pre-k home school or high school chemistry class, the teacher sets the mood. The mood warms and invites or shuts doors and closes opportunity for connection. The power you have as an educator is enormous. And that’s not just because you give grades that can block a path or open one. It is because you create the culture in your classroom, which is influenced directly by the mood. And culture is powerful: it includes or excludes, encourages or discourages, prioritizes, legitimizes, and bestows or withholds expressions of love and care. Educators have a special responsibility to tend to the culture of their classroom, to understand the impact their style, approach, beliefs, and actions have on their students. And it starts with tending to your own self connection.

Being an educator is its own path of self development, we learn to be our best future selves through our service to others, to our students. On that path we see that there is a false choice between taking the time to care for yourself and serving your students. By practicing connection with yourself, you will have stronger skills with which to care for your students. Take a few moments each morning before school — maybe even just after you arrive to school— to use mindfulness to connect to your own body. How does it feel? What is it telling you? Connect with your heart. How are you feeling? What is your heart telling you? Connect with your intentions for the day. What is the essence of what you want to live today?

Once you have connected with yourself, even taking a tiny three minutes, you are ready to consider how you care for your students through your classroom culture. I’ll write more on that soon, but for now, take that moment each day to prioritize connecting to yourself. By investing in you, you are investing in your students.