Register for the Educator Therapy Virtual Summit!

Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins, PhD:

Hey, folks. We are just a few days out from Educator Therapy happening Saturday, January the 29th. January the 29th, it's going down. I have eight sessions. It's all free. The link is in the show notes. Leading equity, but there's a link in the show notes. Sign up for this free event. It's happening January 29th.

               We have one space left for our Mastermind, The Equity Accelerator 2.0. This is for my diversity equity inclusion officers. Those who are doing this work. Those who are on equity teams. Those who are leading out and participating in supporting the needs of all students. When I say all students, I should probably say, "Each student". Sign up for The Accelerator. You'll get five weekly Zoom sessions. You get The Educated Therapy Virtual Summit All Access Pass, The Equity Audit for School Districts and Organizations. You also have access to all the meetings and The Diversity Equity and Inclusion Activity Playbook. Plus, I threw in some bonuses, such as my online course What is all This Talk About Critical Race Theory? You get a Disruptor t-shirt. And, you also get The Frame and Brave Conversations About Race and Ethnicity course. All of that's included for signing up for The Equity Accelerator. Again, we have one spot left. This is a Mastermind for up to eight people. We're down to our final spot. There's a link in the show notes to sign up.


Welcome to the Leading Equity podcast. My name is Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins, and for over a decade, I've helped educators become better advocates for their students. What is an advocate? An advocate is someone who recognizes that we don't live in a just society. Advocates aren't comfortable with the status quo, and are willing to speak up on behalf of others. No matter where you are in your journey towards ensuring all of your students are equipped with the resources they need to thrive, I'm here to help you build your knowledge and confidence to ensure equity at your school.

Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins, PhD:

For today's episode, I want to do something a little different because, again, The Educator Therapy is happening this weekend. Today is January 23rd, so I wanted to give you some snippets of some of the amazing conversations that I've had with some of my friends that are participating in this event. We'll start with talking about the role of microaggressions, and for this session I have Jessica [Sanan 02:46:00]. I really appreciate a lot of the things that she discussed, but one of the pieces that really stood out to me was her thoughts on microaggressions and mental health.

Jessica Sanan:

... everything. From finding energy just to pull through the day, from being able to have conversations confidently, not just among your students, to your staff, to families, and to be proud and to own it, it takes a toll. When you hear so many invalidations, so many insults coming to you left and right, it dehumanizes you, essentially. I think it does it. It does to me.

               For example, when I was in college, I suffered from a concussion, and I had a disability paper that I was able to give to my professor. I took a whole lot of time off from school, and this professor just didn't believe that I had a disability, or a concussion, whatever. Obviously, he didn't need to know the details of which I was getting disability services from. Because I didn't look like I had a disability, so he did not think that I did. So when I requested more time off for an exam, when I requested time off for a death in my family, it got to the point where I felt uncomfortable asking for that time off, because the assumptions that I kept playing behind my head was, "Oh, my goodness. This professor is going to flunk me. This professor is not going to believe in what the work that..." I said, "My colleagues or my peers are going to think less than of me, in terms of how I'm delivering my work", and things like that.

               I say that because I know the kind of person I am. I know the kind of work ethic I have. The moment that somebody questions what I can offer, then I feel like I have to pull myself together in order to deliver firmly. That's just not healthy, essentially.

Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins, PhD:

That was just a snippet of some of the thoughts that Jessica Sanan shared regarding microaggressions and their impact on us. I also have my good friend, Dr. Byron McClure. Him and I discuss social emotional learning as adults, and healing, and recognizing that you have healed. This is a process that all of us probably need to go through at some point in our lives. Here's a snippet of some of his thoughts.

Dr. Byron McClure:

When people are grieving, when people experience events that are traumatic, it's messy, man. There is no clear path that is going to work for everyone. It's just not. I think that it takes time. I think that people are going to grieve, and expressed in so many different ways. You can be fine on a Monday, and be in shambles on a Tuesday, and that's okay. I think that it's a process.

               Interestingly on my podcast, I've had conversations with a number of people, and they all talk about this journey, this healing center journey, that they have to embark upon. It's never a clear start and finish. But what's interesting when I'm talking to all these different people, they almost always say that it had to start with this light bulb moment where, "I made a decision that I'm going to keep going. I don't want to be in whatever this space is any longer". They make a decision to get up, pack their bags, and go on this journey of healing, and it's deep. It's powerful, it's transformational, and it's individualistic in the sense that everyone has to pick out his or her journey, or their journey, or whatever it might be, and there's no right way or wrong way to do it. It's just a matter of doing it.

               You're going to struggle. It's going to be hard. It's going to be tough. It's going to be days. One guest told me, "I just don't want to go on anymore". She felt like giving up. That's a lot of people's reality. In the midst of everything that you're going through, how do you find the strength, the courage, the optimism? Where can you find hope, when there is no healing, that seems attainable? That's real stuff that people are going through. So just being able to get up, and put one foot in front of the other, that's your process. If that's where you are today, that's okay. Just keep going. Because a week from now, you might get up a little bit quicker, and you might be able to reach out and make that call, or call someone who you've been struggling with for so long, and talk to that person. As long as you are headed in that direction, and you're striving towards healing, there's a possibility that you might be able to reach it.

Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins, PhD:

That was Byron McClure. I did a session with Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, and oh man, she's awesome. She shared a lot of thoughts regarding how poetry can help us arrive at peace.

Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz:

I'm liberated, and I am myself everywhere I go. I'm not Yoly over here in the classroom, and a different Yoly in the president's office, and a different Yoly hanging out with friends. I am free and liberated, and therefore, I am me all the time. Not everyone can say that, brother. A lot of us are performing. A lot of us are performing teacher, performing administrator, even performing in our marriages. Right. So that freedom, that freedom then leaves me open, or at least tells the person who might be in a relationship with me, exactly who I am. I don't have to pretend. Right. So I'm open to the love that that person, once they see who I am, I know what I deserve, once they see what I deserve, there is the beauty of having that love in that type of relationship. That's the love and liberation connection for me. The freedom of being myself everywhere I go, and the freedom of being in a new relationship when the time comes. This is me.

               We make it sound easy just having it roll out of our mouths. Even in the jobs that we do in the academy, in the school systems, they're in very oppressive environments. People are not being themselves because if you show a little bit of yourselves, and then you're rejected, sometimes that's hard to recover from. When we talk about peace manifesting in different areas of our lives, that's peace in those relationships. It's nothing like for me having my sisters, and for you having your brothers. At this point, the world that we're in, the power of the podcast and the Zoom, that you can have these relationships without physically touching each other, but at least having the hope and the promise that someday you will. So yes, yes, yes, yes. Peace all around.

Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins, PhD:

That was Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz. Now, my friend, TJ Rumler. Listen, this guy, every time I connect with him, he always brings the fire. He didn't disappoint me this time. He talks about self care plans, and why self care plans are so important.

TJ Rumler:

Brianna Weist who in an article she wrote a few years ago... I love this quote. She said, "True self care is not just about chocolate cakes or salt baths. It's about creating a life that we don't need to escape from." A lot of us, when we think about self care, it's that [inaudible 10:58:00]. It's, "I want to create something to get me out of something, or to help me escape from something." I argue with the clients and the people that I work with that, "Let's back up and create a proactive self care plan to stop you from getting to that place of where you have to escape from something, or to where you have to save yourself from a feeling of despair, or burnout, or compassion, fatigue, or whatever those things are". Often it shows up in things that are not sexy. It's getting sleep. It's eating a healthy diet. It's hydrating. It's those things. It's having healthy digital boundaries, like not checking my email at 12:30 in the morning every night.

               It's very personal, so it's different for everybody. That's where I try to go from that proactive discipline of self care. When I can identify, and take a breath, and really check in with myself, and I answer the question, "What is it I need?", then I can develop a strategy. If I don't know what I need, I can't develop a plan for it. Because I can feel angry, upset, whatever, and the need may be different. I may need connection. Or, if I need time alone, those strategies are completely different. If I need connection, then I may call up a friend or a family member, and say, "Hey, I'm really feeling alone. I'd love to connect with somebody. You want to go have dinner? You want to have coffee?" Something like that. "You want to come over, and I'll cook a meal." But if I'm overextended, and I just really need some time to let at stuff settle, that may show up as saying, "Hey, I know we had plans, but I really need time by myself. Would you be willing to reschedule so I can spend Friday night just by myself?"

               Once you can identify what are those things that are super important to you, that's why it's so different for everybody, you can start doing things on purpose to make sure those needs are met.

Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins, PhD:

That Was TJ Rumler. Dr. Christian Chan, out of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, discusses trauma-informed care and resources. He talks about race-based trauma and examples of trauma. Here's some of his thoughts from our conversation.

Dr. Christian Chan:

Coming back to my point about leaning on community, that, especially everything about bipod communities when we think about narrative and meaning making, it's not just an individual endeavor. So much of it is a collective and generational endeavor. When I think about leaning on our community, we have to really look out for each other. That's something in terms of, even when I think about my own response to COVID, and my own response to race-based trauma and racism, it's because leaning on community has been such a crucial support for me. When I think about leaning on community, it's also about knowing the accountability, not only holding myself accountable to friends and colleagues, and knowing that I'm there to support them, but also saying, "Hey, I'm wondering if you're just looking out for their wellness, too, and they would do the same for me?" Because the reality, when we think about race-based trauma research, it's more, actually, detected by our colleagues, by our community members, than it is by ourselves.

               In that reality, it's also important to know, in terms of increasing trauma literacy, we're not just doing it for ourselves, we're also doing it to support our colleagues, and our friends and family members. So that's where I would say, "Lean on each other. Look out for each other." is such an important message that I want to impart with our audience.

               The second takeaway I want us to sit with, or reflect on, as we move forward from today, is to also really think about whether, "Is this an individual problem, or is this an institutional problem?" Because in that capacity, when we frame it in that sense, we're starting to wonder or reflect on, "Is this a me problem? Or am I giving myself the space to really think about this as an institutional problem?"

Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins, PhD:

That was Dr. Christian Chan. Angela Watson brought the fire in my conversation with her, where we talked about teacher burnout. I took so many notes as she and I were discussing what are some of the causes of teacher burnout. She provided multiple options on how to mitigate those challenges.

Angela Watson:

If you need to take a day off, you need to take a day off. Schools are going to have to adapt the same way that restaurants, that grocery stores, that everybody else has had to adapt. A lot of them have shortened their hours. They're offering less services. Restaurants have limited menus, right? We have to do the same thing as schools, and say, "You know what? We don't have the staff to run all of these extras right now. We're not going to do them. We don't have the staff to be having these different committees. We're not going to do them. It's what? Five months left in the school year at this point? We can stop."

               We found out in March 2020 that the whole society, as we know it, can shut down if we need it to. So there's absolutely no reason that we can't truly reimagine how we do school and say, "You know what? We don't have the staff for the next couple of weeks, so we're going to cut back on what it is that we're offering." I would say to individual teachers, "Know that in your work as well, you're just not going to be able to do everything that you wish you could do this year for kids. Not even if you are there 100%. Your kids are not there 100% because they have been through some stuff over these last two and a half years. They're probably missing a lot of school. They're having a lot of absences. If a bunch of kids are out, you're just not going to be able to teach the way that you want to teach. So meet the situation where it is, instead of what you wish that it could be, and lower some of those expectations. The normal school year expectations are just not there."

               We don't like to talk about that in education, because it sounds like you're short changing kids, or you don't care about kids, but I'm telling you if you've got a third of your staff out, and a third of your kids are home, you cannot operate as usual. If you need to take the day off, take the day off. Leave a simple lesson plan, and it is what it is. That's not going to be the worst thing that happens in those kid's life. I promise you that. You leaving a really simple review activity for them is not going to break their entire educational career. Their one class period with you that one day is really not that important, so it's okay. Sometimes I think we overthink how important this one day is. Don't internalize that pressure. You're feeling it from all sides. You can take a day off, and the world's not going to end. Promise.

Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins, PhD:

That was Angela Watson. Now, Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy. She and I discussed building your own audience. Some of us are looking at other means for financial support, or maybe some of us are even looking at moving into other areas such as side hustles and entrepreneurship. I love what Jennifer said when she discussed the impact of entrepreneurship and mental health.

Jennifer Gonzalez:

Teachers are smart, resourceful, organized, systematic. They can make a plan and execute it. I could see small groups of teachers doing incredible things together. Sometimes it's just those conversations you're having at lunch. It's, "Somebody should do this". Then it's, "Yes, let's do this. Let's deliver box lunches to schools that are just for teachers." I don't know what it is. I think the combination of our giant holes that we have right now in the service industry, and all the opportunities that technology affords us, I think that there are lots of opportunities.

               I feel when a teacher is not... This is important. When a teacher is not held to a job because of economic necessity, when he, or she, or they have the option to quit any time, because they've got another income stream going, I think that makes that person a very powerful player in the teaching game. Because they can say, "No. That expectation, that's unreasonable. I can't do it." What are you going to do about it? The thing is, if that person is a good teacher, they're not going to get fired. But if you're afraid of losing your job for economic reasons, I don't know. I almost think now that it's the entrepreneurial teachers that could actually turn teaching around because they would actually have that backing, a little financial cushion, to be able to push back without having to be worried about losing their jobs.

Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins, PhD:

That was Jennifer Gonzalez of the Cult of Pedagogy. Now, again, these are just snippets, just snippets of the rich conversations that I have with each of these individuals, and of course I have my own session as well. It's a session where I want to help you stay encouraged. I've gone through some things myself, and I open up and share some of my experiences, and again, just a word of encouragement for us as educators, as we continue on this work. But you can watch all of these sessions in their entirety, just register for free for the Educator Therapy Virtual Summit, which is happening January 29th. If you are listening to this episode after January 29th, no worries. You can get the All Access Pass. If you are signed up and you say, "You know what, I'm going to miss this event", or "I didn't get a chance to watch all the videos", you could definitely take advantage of the All Access Pass as well.

               Like I said before, we have one space, one space left for the Equity Accelerator 2.0. Five weekly Zoom meetings. Get the Educator Therapy All Access Pass. We'll throw in a couple online courses and a t-shirt, and of course you get the Audit and the Diverse Equity Inclusion Activity Playbook. So all those things are available. One spot left. Sign up today. Link in the show notes.

               I thank you so much for your support. 2021 was a very interesting year, and 2022 doesn't seem to let up either, but we want to stay positive. We want to remain competent and confident that we will be able to continue to do this work because at the end of the day, our students need us. Our families, our communities need us. All my educators out there, I just want to say I'm so thankful for the work that you do. I know these are tough times. I know that you are doing this, not necessarily for the money, but you're doing this because you have a passion for the work that you do. So, thank you. Keep it up. I hope to see you Saturday for Educator Therapy.


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