Showing Care for Teachers

Today, one of the top priorities for principals and educational leaders may be to care for teachers. They are doing the sacred work of nourishing our children. Whether, online, in-class, or hybrid, teachers deserve our dignity and tenderness, particularly now. It matters.

I know difficult decisions are currently being made in schools and sometimes the teachers pay the price. So, we want to continue to show care and concern.

Here is an activity I curated this week to show care within various team meetings. The training I received from Center for Courage and Renewal inspires this activity. It can be executed virtually, in-person, or even asynchronously.

Digest the poem

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Using the following types of readings give participants a spacious and generous and forgiving few moments to digest the poem’s metaphors. I suggest the following process:

  1. Listen – read the entire poem
  2. Singular Voices from the Circle – read each stanza
  3. Responsive Voices from the Circle – read evocative words, phrases, or lines in any order

During this process welcome Silence as an important guest. I really like to give all of these instructions and then invite the activity to proceed unprompted. Silence is almost sure to arrive with this approach.

Personally reflect on meaning

Then, in either dyads or triads, have each participant riff on one of the following questions, or other ideas of their own.

  1. Tell the story of a time when you were “packed in too tight” and “doused the flames.”
  2. What is “fuel” and what is the “absence of the fuel” for you?
  3. If you seize the opportunity to design a “fire” for your life by laying “a log lightly from time to time,” what are the logs you’d prioritize for your life now?
  4. How does a “flame that knows just how it wants to burn” feel in your life?  How will you know you have it?

Close the exercise

As you draw everyone back to the large circle, invite participants to share moving or intriguing reflections they heard. The tone throughout is generous and so participants will most often be willing and ready to share.

Model the Way

Don’t forget the most important part of this message is authentically modelling self-care. Giving your team permission to rest is essential. How will you nourish your own journey with both “fuel” and the “absence of fuel,” with “a log lightly” and with “spaces?”

For the sake of the children,


P.S. If you’re a parent reading, how might you use this with your family, even just the ‘fire’ metaphor as a dinner discussion starter this weekend? Even young children will be able to understand this metaphor, particularly if they’ve experienced a campfire or you share the image.

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