Caring for the Caretaker 5


What do you pour yourself into?

What is your service that also brings you strength?

What is your commitment?

What is your enthusiasm? (Enthusiasm, En Theos, to be one with divine energy)

When do you feel one with divine energy?

Take some private/quiet time and develop a “joy list.” A “joy list” is made up of people, places, and things that bring you joy.

Healthy, nurturing, joyful.

Your “joy list” combined with your daily affirmation, visualizations and meditation will become your primary resources to fuel your passion.

Caring for the Caretaker 4


Every day life offers us a variety of possibilities. The events that life offers are not in
our control. How we respond to those events is in our control. The events and our
response equals the outcome.

E + R = O

Haim Ginott had a wonderful reflective piece for all of us who are educators and parents. “I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized." –Haim Ginott

Another teacher, 2,500 years ago, put it quite simply.
“Reaction is the Supreme Art in Life.” -Buddha

Caring for the Caretaker 3

Tools to stay loose, flexible, creative, and
positive when we take ourselves too seriously

Draw the line: The last ten to fifteen minutes of the work day can be spent in quiet reflection or assessment, emotional showering, stress reduction or physical fitness activity or you could visit the “can do” room.

The “Can Do” Room: In every school I have worked in, I can find a room where all there is, are negative conversations. What’s wrong in the building? Who’s not doing their job? Complaints and moans. All too often, it is in the faculty lounge. I propose that the teaching staff or caring team create a “Can Do” room or at least a ”Can Do” time.

Only plus conversations: Speak only of what’s right with the building. Speak only of who’s doing a great job. Speak only of positive experiences. The room could be filled with human resource information, books, video and audio tapes, articles; anything on the courage, richness and joy of life and humanity. Also, be sure to include some materials, both written and visual, on laughter and humor. Norman Cousins, in his book “Anatomy of An Illness” taught us the healing power of laughter.

Mini Vacations: Learn to go on a mini-vacation. Everyday, any time of the day, we can escape and renew ourselves. Traditionally, there is prayer, meditation, or sharing your feelings with a trusted friend.

Touchstones: Keep handy little stones, shells or symbols of a loved one and/or a lovely time that returns when we hold the object. Jim Henson’s Fraggles believe that a pebble increases in value every time we pass it on. What can you pass on today?

Caring for the Caretaker 2


Today, in every school district, every home and every community I have visited, it gets tougher everyday. Many of us are tempted to repeat and enact the old adage,

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

If we constantly enact that belief system when the going gets tough, the result will be stress, tension, anger, bitterness and illness. Let’s practice a new twist on that old phrase by making it,

“When the going gets tough, the tough get loose.”

Loose being defined as a creative, flexible, and with “can do” attitude.

Caring for the Caretaker

The challenge for us in the caretaking profession is:

Is our personal glass 1/2 full or 1/2 empty?

While sitting on the Jersey shore, I read the following item in Newsweek that spoke to me of the challenges and the choices we face every day in the helping professions.

“What I am trying to get across is a sense of the dimension of the challenge without the exaggerated fears that often accompany it. Because either mankind is going to solve these problems, or mankind is going to cease to exist – it’s getting that stark. Now you can either get hopeless over that, or you can say, ‘Well, now, here’s an interesting challenge. How are we going to get through this one?’” We are invited everyday to get hopeless or to get active.

Our work is serious, life-saving and life-giving. We must continue to take our work seriously and we must learn to take ourselves lightly. We must learn to access joy in the face of adversity.

Uniting a School

Unity Day asks schools to identify 100 students and 10 staff who are willing to work on the very sensitive issues of bullying, racism, sexism, alcohol and drug use, and mental health concerns. Each school we work with will select a diverse group of students from different groups within the school to break down the walls of stereotypes and label, and create a unified community. We ask administration to select staff and students who want to address the “real” problems students face in a supportive year long process. Unity Day is much more than a one day commitment. Staff and students must commit to ongoing support group meetings to implement the plans created at Unity Day.

The greatest problems in our schools today are staff and students who are disconnected, lonely, and isolated. Throughout our Unity Day program we build connection, pro school bonding and genuine caring. We find that we are much more alike than we are different. We also come to a place where we respect and celebrate our differences. Throughout the day students and staff work in large and small group settings to teach each other and address the deepest concerns in their school. We learn we are not alone. We create a unified community.

Understanding Children Affected by Poverty

Poverty can be viewed from a variety of viewpoints; including financial, emotional, menta, spiritual and physical. Support systems, resources, relationships and role models play a critical role as intervening factors. Some key beliefs about poverty are:
  1. Poverty is relative
  2. Poverty occurs in all races
  3. Economic class is a continuous line not a clear cut distinction
  4. There is a difference between generational and situational poverty
  1. In the United states in 2001, poverty rates for all individuals was 11.7%, for children under the age of 18 the poverty rate was 16.3% and for children under the age of 6 the rate was 18.2%.
  2. There were 6.8 million poor families (9.2% in 2001, up from 6.4 million (6.7%) in 2000.
  3. The foreign-born population in the United States has increased 57% since 1990 to total 30 million. In 200 one of every five children under age 18 in the U.S. was estimated to have at least one foreign-born paren. Immigrant children are twice as likely to be poor as native-born children. Among Children whose parents work full time, immigrant children are at a greater risk of living in poverty than native-born children (National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University, 2002).
  4. Regardless of race or ethnicity, poor children are much more likely than non-poor children to suffer developmental delay and damage, to drop out of high school and give birth during the teen years (Miranda, 1991).
  5. Poverty-prone children are more likely to be in single paren families (Einbinder, 1993). Median female wages in the United States, at all levels of educational attainment, are 30% to 50% lower than male wages at the same level of educational attainment (TSII Manual, 1995, based on U.S. Census data 1993).
  6. Poor inner-city youths are seven times more likely to be the victims of child abuse or neglect than are children of high social and economic status (Renchler, 1993).
  7. Poverty is caused by interrelated factors: parental employment status and earnings, family structure and parental education (Five Million Children, 1992).
  8. Children under age 6 remain particularly vulnerable to poverty. Children living in families with a female householder and no husband present experienced a poverty rate of 48.9% (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2001).
  9. The United States' child poverty rate is substantially higher - often two or three times - than that of most other major Western industrialized nations.
How do we help children affected by poverty?
  • Identify the resources necessary to help students move from poverty to success
  • Practice a variety of intervention skills to assist students with discipline and academic achievement
  • Learn the role that language plays in poverty situations
  • Experience the hidden roles that exist in social structures
  • Learn the characteristics of generational poverty
  • Identify role models and support systems that schools can use as interventions

How Teachers Can Positively Influence Students

  • Establish healthy communication patterns. Put the emphasis on listening. Remember, we have two ears and only one mouth. We need to listen at least 50% of the time. Often Listening is the only assistance a child needs to help them solve a problem.
  • Teach respect by showing and modeling respect to students.
  • Teach trustworthiness as a core human value and an essential ingredient in character development.
  • Promote the behavior of responsibility. Remind students that they are 100% responsible for what they think, feel, say and do. Now one can make you think, feel, say or do anything.
  • Demonstrate moral character. Establish ground rules in the classroom. Teach a true sense of right and wrong.
  • Promote helping others and a service mentality. Assign yourself, don't wait. Encourage cross age tutoring. If something needs to be done, do it! Democracy is not a spectator sport. Get and stay involved.
  • Most importantly teach students to acknowledge the existence of problems. Encourage them to seek help from parents, other teachers and counselors when they have a concern.