Welcome to another episode of The AfroEducator Podcast - the place where we are rewriting the teacher rule book and empowering teachers to teach and live more authentically!
On today’s show, I’m talking about trendy "self-care" with Amber Harper of The Burned-In Teacher. Amber is an educator turned burnout coach and recently she announced that after 3 years of growing Burned-In Teacher full-time, she will be transitioning back into the classroom. Amber is definitely someone who practices what she preaches and this transition is going to give her the opportunity to do exactly that
I’m really excited about this interview because Amber is an IG turned real-life friend and mentor. She was one of the first people I connected with when I started my journey as The AfroEducator 3 years ago.
If you've been following me for a while, then you know that my entire platform was sort of constructed around the idea of “Me First.” I had just come out of my 2nd season of burnout and self-care really resonated with me. At this point, I’d been teaching for 5 or 6 years and the idea of placing my needs above the needs of my job was a foreign concept. I truly believed that prioritizing myself would somehow take away from my ability to teach well. I had internalized the martyrdom mentality that so many of us teachers succumb to in our careers. Yes, I knew that the sacrifice was killing me but I also knew that I was doing a pretty good job at teaching…or at least I thought I was. And I had attributed my capability in the classroom to the fact that I had been “dedicated” and “hardworking.”
Really though, my being a "good" teacher didn’t have anything to do with my level of sacrifice, instead, it had everything to do with who I was as a human being. And I realized that my burnout steamed from the fact that I wasn’t doing anything to nurture the human inside…I was just a worker. When I discovered self-care, it was a game-changer.
Around the time I discovered self-care, everyone else did too! And that was exciting because there was so much information and so many tools and strategies available for me to take advantage of on my journey. But as I began to learn and my understanding of self-care evolved, I noticed that self-care in the mainstream did not. It was all bubble baths, chocolate, and manicures. Don’t get me wrong I used to live for the nail salon and the occasional bubble bath is heavenly, but those are not ultimately the kinds of self-care that will create more overall joy in our lives. They are indulgences that provide temporary relief and even happiness, but they don’t get to the root of our burnout or overwhelm or dissatisfaction. Within the last couple of years, I’ve taken to saying “wellness” or “well-being” instead of self-care because the trendiness of it has watered down its essence.
I'm grateful for Amber and I’m excited to have her as a guest on this episode. She has been - and continues to be - a huge inspiration and motivator for me as a beginning teacherprenuer!
Amber wants teachers to know that self-care is not “one-size-fits-all”; rather, self-care can be different for everyone. There are a lot of misconceptions about what self-care is and isn’t, but at its core, self-care is something that you do to take care of your FUTURE self. The recent commercialized view of self-care - for example, bubble baths, chocolate, and wine - may sound nice and offer you temporary relief, but they do little to support long-term changes. Some well-intended self-care practices can quickly turn from self-care to self-indulgence, to self-destruction. Amber explains that TRUE self-care isn’t easy - it's difficult and it can be scary at times, but it’s in this REAL work that you will truly take care of yourself and create the changes you need to live the life you want and deserve.
Amber believes you can teach and live more authentically by paying attention to the stories you tell yourself in your head and out loud because that could change everything.
Amber Harper is a long-time educator, author, speaker, and podcaster. She’s the founder of www.burnedinteacher.com and author of Hacking Teacher Burnout which gives struggling teachers a path to follow as they navigate their way out of burnout. Amber is a Teacher Burnout Coach here to help educators grow through their burnout and take their next, best steps toward what they want from their career in education and in life.
If you are enjoying the podcast, please do me a HUGE favor and rate, share, and subscribe to this podcast. My hope that is that the experiences and gems shared on this show will inspire teachers to become better versions of themselves as they redefine what it means to teach well and prioritize themselves.