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A Simple Tool to Help Teachers Regulate Their Emotions

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I remember my first year of teaching was difficult, and then as I progressed in my job, the following year got easier and easier. But now, for many educators, every year is harder, and the emotional toll is devastating.Unfortunately, reports of educators teaching through trauma, and the tendency of education leaders to support their schools under extremely unfavorable conditions, are not going away anytime soon.On Twitter and in the news, we see daily stories of misbehaving kids, unqualified teachers, circular quarantining students, educators resigning or being fired over a controversy over wearing masks, and tense school board meetings. School officials and teachers have even been threatened with violence.
In my work with schools, there is much discussion of the above issues, as well as the use of emotional regulation strategies to combat the emotional pain that many educators are undoubtedly experiencing.

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While social and emotional learning (SEL) strategies are crucial for restoring our own emotional well-being in chaotic situations, it’s important to remember that emotional management strategies are not a panacea for the problems and problems facing schools today, especially those beyond our control.
Over time, however, ignoring our emotions can trigger excessive anxiety, leading to anxiety, irritability, or anger. Some people may withdraw from social activities or interact negatively with others as a result. If we don’t work to cope with and heal the emotional exhaustion caused by the build-up of stressors, not only will our mood be disrupted, but other areas of our lives will be disrupted as well. Unfortunately, a lot of people in our industry live in that environment.
In an episode of “Queen Sugar” (one of my favorite shows), the main character, Micah West, says, “I can’t control what happens, but I can control how I respond to things.” I think this is an encouraging prospect — even in the most depressing times for schools.
In a previous article, I described using Plutchik’s Emotional Wheels to help students mark and identify the emotions they are experiencing, as well as self-regulating emotional programming; With some tweaks, I improved the tool for educators who might need it.