California Educator

February/March 2020

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s om ethin g radical h ere. We're tr yin g to change the cultural norm of what it means to be an educator." It can' t c om e s o on en ou g h , a s th e impact of traumatic events — whether ongoing from poverty or chronic abuse, or from devastating natural disasters, school shootings, or trauma in the family or community — affects increasing num- bers of students. According to Stephen Brock, school psychology professor at CSU Sacramento, symptoms of secondhand exposure to trauma are the same as direct exposure, making it vital for educators to be delib- erate about personal wellness and weave self-care into daily life. " E d u c a t o r s a r e e x p e c t e d t o h e l p stu d e n t s t h r o u g h t h e i r t ra u m a , b u t we're not getting what we need for our trauma," says Wendy Eccles, president of NEA-Jurupa. "If we're not good to our- selves, we're no good for our students. And our working conditions are our stu- dents' learning conditions." In fact, CTA believes that educators' working conditions should allow time for their health and well-being. "Self-care goes hand in hand with sustainable health and well-being systems and programs supported by school administrators and districts," says CTA President E. Toby Boyd. "One does not happen without the other." S o m e C TA l o c a l s h a v e b e g u n advocating for these essentials by exploring how to incorporate them in Local Control and Accountability Plans or negotiate them into educator contracts (see sidebar, page 28). Giving support and showing care to fellow educators Instructional coach Jennifer D'Antoni says she and her colleagues working at a Title I school face a lot of unique challenges related to widespread pov- erty and the effects of generational in equity. O ver th e past few years, many students at Twinhill Elemen- tar y S chool in Riverside have lost parents to gun violence and incar- ceration. Educators come together every time to support them through their grief, she says — but who helps the teachers? "At my site, new teachers are get- ting burned out quickly and losing that fire they had when they first started . Th ere's supp or t for th e stud ents but not for the teachers, so they just keep it bottled up," says D'Antoni, a member of Alvord Educators Association. Unrea- sonable expectations from district administrators add another layer T H I S S T O R Y I S part of our series that looks at how educators are handling students with trauma. Read more at SPECIAL REPORT " Educators are expected to help students through their trauma, but we're not getting what we need for our trauma. If we're not good to ourselves, we're no good for our students." — Wendy Eccles, president of NEA-Jurupa 27 F E B R U A R Y / M A R C H 2 0 2 0 Compassion Fatigue a Burnout Compassion fatigue is commonly experienced by those who help others in distress. An extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped can create secondary traumatic stress (STS) for the helper, according to Charles Figley of the Tulane Traumatology Institute. Since educators are often in situations where they see or hear about ongoing and sometimes severe suffering, they are far more susceptible to compassion fatigue. Burnout is defined by the American Institute of Stress as a cumulative process marked by emotional exhaustion and withdrawal associated with increased workload and institutional stress. Burnout is not trauma-related but can coexist with compassion fatigue.

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