Quiet Rooms Created for Valley Teachers to Balance Burnout
PHOENIX — A Valley Elementary School is fighting teacher burnout by giving them a place to find peace throughout the day.
“It’s a really good way to take a break, to relax, to refocus, to focus,” said first-grade teacher Breanne Yamada.
Surrounded by peaceful lighting and ambience, teachers at Kyrene De La Sierra Elementary School recharge their batteries in a room now known as “Zen Den”.
“Even though you can work as hard as you can and want to do your best, sometimes you feel like you’re doing so much that you can’t do it all,” Yamada said.
It is not too uncommon for educators like Yamada to fall prey to perfectionism.
It comes with the territory when academics are concerned. She says she’s looking to outdo how to make sure the children she cares for get the best education possible, while allowing plenty of time for rest and recovery.
“Teaching 26 first graders is like being on the little hamster wheel and you go and you go and you go, and thinking about all these different things, you think about the academic needs of the children, their social needs, their emotional needs, their family life,” Yamada said.
A recent National Education Association survey showed that 55% of teachers said they had a plan to leave the profession early due to burnout, with 90% calling it a serious problem.
“Teachers need to do a lot more to catch up with their children academically, emotionally and socially, and that’s really having an impact,” said school counselor Jessie Davis.
So when the school won a $2,500 grant from the American Heart Institute, Davis set to work creating space for teachers to let loose, if only for a moment.
“You’re going to see our diffuser here,” Davis said, pointing to features in the room filled with a sense of calm — like giant bean bags and massage chairs. “It’s probably the most used item; teachers just have to dwell on it.”
The “Zen Den” is a one-of-a-kind benefit that makes major differences inside and outside the classroom.
“This one really speaks to me, ‘You don’t find the balance, you create it,'” Yamada said of a panel in the room.
Something they’ve clearly done with the “Zen Den”, a wonderful move that should pay dividends to big-hearted people shaping small minds.