EP 14 Sarah Forst: Self-Care for Teachers - Teacher Career Coach
Self Care for Teachers

EP 14 Sarah Forst: Self-Care for Teachers

TeacherCareerCoach

In the most recent episode of The Teacher Career Coach Podcast, I interview Sarah Forst, teacher self-care expert. Sarah shares her personal story of burning out as a classroom teacher.

She offers some great actionable advice on how to implement self-care into your routine, including how to best schedule so that you keep yourself a priority. We have some candid discussions including our own personal stories battling burnout (and leaving the classroom due to it).

I truly believe every teacher should listen to this episode.

Listen to the episode in the podcast player below, or find it on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

Daphne Gomez:
Hey there. Welcome to another episode of The Teacher Career Coach Podcast. I’m Daphne Williams. Sarah Forst is passionate about helping teachers be the best educators that they can be without sacrificing their wellbeing. As a former special education teacher in Chicago, she learned the importance of teacher self-care the hard way. Listen in as she shares her story and actionable advice on how other teachers can implement self care into their routines.

Hey Sarah, thank you so much for joining us here today.

Sarah Forst:
For sure. Thanks for having me.

Daphne Gomez:
I wanted to start off a little by just hearing about your journey in education. How long were you a teacher for?

Sarah Forst:
So I was only in the classroom for four years. I started teaching through… I’m always a little hesitant to say this, but I started teaching through Teach For America. And so that’s how I first got started. So I didn’t have an education degree undergrad. My major was actually object design, and then I got training and went to grad school as I was teaching.

Daphne Gomez:
Okay. I actually ended up… I got an internship because the school district that I was working for was really, really struggling to find teachers. So I was able to actually go through the teaching program and teach my very first year as an intern. So get paid while I was going through the teaching program. So we both kind of started off in a unique path.

Sarah Forst:
Yeah. I think they call it alternative certification.

Daphne Gomez:
While you were teaching, did you find yourself practicing self care on a regular basis?

Sarah Forst:
No. Not until I absolutely had to, I guess. So like I said, I was teaching for a total of four years when I first started. I had very minimal training. I was also in grad school full time at night. And I was teaching at a charter school, which here in Chicago, if you’re in Chicago public schools, you have a lot more protections. Like legally, you don’t have to work outside of your contracted hours. But at a charter, they can basically do whatever they want. So I didn’t have a car either. So I was taking public transit. I mean, it was… Like looking back, I’m like, I don’t know how I did that. There really was no time for it. Like I got up, I did the commute on the bus and the train, I was at school, I went right to grad school. By the time I got home it’s 10:30 or 11. And then I was just trying to do anything I could to prepare for the next day. And then I got up and I started all over again.

Daphne Gomez:
Did you start burning out pretty quickly?

Sarah Forst:
Yeah, I mean, that’s part of the problem I think with programs like Teach for America is that it’s kind of, it’s almost designed… I don’t want to say designed. It’s not maybe intentional, but it feels unavoidable that you burn out quickly. You’re really encouraged to give like 200%. And so that first year in particular was pretty rough. And then my second year in the Teach for America commitment, I decided not to keep going with grad school. I had my certification at that point but I was just like, this is too much. So it got a little bit better. And then after I was finished with my Teach for America commitment, I switched to a traditional Chicago public school and that was a lot, lot better. And at that point I did have more time. My commute was shorter. There wasn’t as much of that expectation that you get there super early and stay super late.

But part of what I discovered is it’s not just the setting that you’re in that influences whether you practice self-care or not. You can be in the best possible school and environment, and if you don’t have the right mindset, you can still be on that path to burnout. And that was my experience. My fourth and final year of teaching… Like I said, even though I was in a better environment, I was still just working all of the time. I really wasn’t doing anything but work. And I was putting way too much pressure on myself. And I just had a full on mental breakdown.

Daphne Gomez:
That’s kind of where I found myself my very last year teaching… Or no, sorry. You started the self-care thing while you were still teaching, right?

Sarah Forst:
No, I didn’t. It’s kind of a little bit of a weird timeline. The Designer Teacher, my Teacher’s Pay Teachers store, and my blog and everything I did start while I was still teaching, but then I didn’t start Teacher Care Crate, my self-care subscription box, until the first month was the January of the first school year that I wasn’t in the classroom.

Daphne Gomez:
Did you leave ultimately to pursue your business going full-time?

Sarah Forst:
No, I didn’t. And people often assume that I left teaching to pursue my business because that is now what I’ve been doing full-time for a few years. I do always try to correct that, because I feel like that makes me sound more successful or you know, than I am. I mean, I left because I had a mental breakdown. I have an anxiety disorder. I was already on medication. But that year it was really bad. And I started seeing a therapist regularly. And for me, I just decided the way forward was that if I could make it through that school year, I really wanted to not leave midyear. I totally understand that people have to do it. But in Chicago public schools, there’s a big shortage of special education teachers. And at that point I was really close with my students. A lot of them I’d worked with the past year as well. And I knew they would have a really hard time finding another teacher.

So I said, if I can make it through this school year, I’m going to take a semester or a year off. And I really thought that I would miss teaching so much that I might even be back midyear. And I knew I could find a job midyear because of that special education shortage. So I really did not expect to end up working from home full-time. And I actually thought, okay, maybe I’ll kind of do Teachers Pay Teachers part-time and then I’ll do like, I don’t know, consulting or work at some kind of special education center part-time. But I just decided, I was like, I’m going to give this Teachers Pay Teachers thing an honest go for a few months and see how it works. I’m lucky that I was able financially comfortably to do that. And within a few months it actually surpassed my teaching salary. So at that point that’s when I was like, okay, so this could… I could do this full time if I want.

Daphne Gomez:
So that last year that you were teaching, with going to therapy and really just figuring out that you needed to take a break, that is ultimately what really made you so passionate about helping other teachers practice self care, right?

Sarah Forst:
Yes. I don’t want to not sound humble, but I think I was a good teacher. I think I did a good job. And I want other teachers who are good teachers to not feel like they have to leave, if that makes sense. My school was upset to see me go. They kept trying to hire me back. And my principal was really shocked when I told him I was leaving and he somehow had no idea that I was struggling. And so that has kind of informed a lot of how I talk to teachers and kind of what I put in my book, is just for teachers that do want to stay teaching. There’s nothing wrong with leaving, but if you do want to stay in the classroom, how can you do that? And self-care, that’s why I’d really try to drive home… I say all the time, but like self-care is not selfish. You have to do it if you want to stay teaching and you want to be successful. Otherwise you will burn out and either you’ll be miserable or you’ll have to leave.

Daphne Gomez:
No. And I think that’s such an important point to address is you were a great teacher, but you walked away to focus on some other avenue, but you’re still teaching. You’re still passionate about teaching. You’re just teaching other teachers at this point. And I think that’s always something to acknowledge that it’s always going to be inside of you. And you’re always going to be able to still really add value to people’s lives, whatever you end up doing. Going back to self care though. A lot of times I think people don’t really realize that it’s not as simple as just taking a bubble bath on Saturdays. It’s a skill. There’s a lot more to it. Teachers are often just kind of told you should go home and practice self-care, but they really don’t feel like they have time to do that. How can teachers establish a plan to prioritize their own personal self care?

Sarah Forst:
Yeah. So I’m hearing from a lot of teachers this year getting frustrated that the administrators are telling them like, oh, practice self care, like you said. But then at the same time still having these really high expectations and still piling on homework at the same time. So in terms of establishing a plan, I think a lot of… In terms of just strengthening your self care practice in general, I think a lot of it is about mindset and you’re going to have to just accept that not everything is going to get done. This is I think part of what I really struggled with as a teacher was just as accepting that. That too much is being asked of you. If you feel like it’s not possible to do all this, you’re right. It’s not. You can’t do all of that and maintain your mental health.

So you have to make some cuts. And this is something I talk about in the book. But for me, one of the things I decided to cut was laminating. It sounds silly. And it’s not even like I hated laminating that much. But it just took up time and it was something, you know what, actually all of these things don’t need to be laminated. And for you, maybe that’s bulletin boards. I’m just not doing this. Or maybe it’s grading every worksheet, if that’s something that you’re doing right now. You have to make some cuts.

And then from there in terms of setting up a plan, I really encourage teachers to actually set up a schedule. Especially I find a lot of teachers are very type A and so if forms of self care are scheduled in, you’re more likely to actually complete it. One thing that I started doing while I was still teaching that I still do now virtually, but was going to yoga every Friday night at 5:30. And that was a really good way to close out my week. But if that had just been something that I sort of did at home, or oh, I’ll try to do yoga, I probably wouldn’t have ended up doing it. But I put it on my Google calendar. I paid for membership to make sure that I actually did it.

And then I think just trying to build in accountability. On Sunday nights, I decided to cut myself off from working at 8:30 and go take a bath. And that was something I told my husband, like I’m not working past 8:30 PM. If you see me still working, tell me to stop. And I think you have to try to set those somewhat rigid boundaries because if you don’t, there’s always going to be more to do. There’s all always going to be an exception. A quote I like a lot is “enough is a decision, not an amount.” You just have to decide that you’re done.

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah. I absolutely love that. Just touching on a couple of things that you just said. Even that laminating. You think you are planning strategically. You’re thinking, I’m doing this thing and it’s going to impact this activity being easier 2, 3, 4 years out. But if you don’t have the mental capacity or the bandwidth, cut it out for right now. If you are so overwhelmed with everything, you need to prioritize. What do I need to accomplish to be good at my job right now in this moment? And that might just be grading these papers. It might be scheduling next week’s lessons, bare minimum. And then you also need to schedule in self care activities. And if something comes up like laminating that activity or creating new worksheets from scratch, or you get distracted with making your bulletin board really, really cute to look at, you need to look at those top three priorities because you don’t have the mental capacity right now. You don’t have the bandwidth. You aren’t able to add more to your plate. So get those first three priorities, self-care being one of them, done before you move on to the other activities.

Sarah Forst:
Yes, exactly. And I hear from a lot of teachers say, well, I enjoy those things. And I think that’s valid. And I don’t want to take all the fun out of teachers lives. But it’s just like you said, you still need to prioritize your self-care. And then if you find that you have time and the desire leftover afterword, fine. That’s great. But there’s so many things that are already sort of must dos and are really critical in teaching that I think those extras need to be extras.

Daphne Gomez:
What are some of your favorite types of self-care activities that you recommend to teachers?

Sarah Forst:
So what is going to be self-care for you just really depends on you and your personality and what you like. People who follow me on Instagram know that one of my favorite forms of self-care is doing puzzles. I got into that during that year when I was having a mental breakdown. I remember Thanksgiving of that year, I went to visit at my in-laws who live at a retirement community. And they had a puzzle that they had out for the family members to complete. And I ended up doing it the whole time we were there. I just find it a really good chance just to kind of focus on something else that’s not work. So while I was teaching, sometimes I after school would work on that just for a half an hour, sort of as a reset. And then if I still needed to do work afterward, I would, but I would have kind of that break in between. So that’s not something I try to do on the weekends. Drink my coffee, listen to my audio book, work on my puzzle. I know taking a bath is kind of the cliche self-care, but you know what? It’s free. If you have a bathtub, then it’s right there for you. That is something I enjoy.

Daphne Gomez:
I know it’s cliche. But you know, once a month, a $7 bath bomb. It feels like you’re really treating yourself. So I agree.

Sarah Forst:
And for me, I was taking a bath once a week while I was teaching. Sunday nights, it was just like, nope, this is what I’m going to do. And again, having it built in like that meant that I actually did it.

Daphne Gomez:
Absolutely. How many hours per week would you recommend? And I know, there’s no black or white answer for this. But do you have a timeframe that you actually recommend that they block into their calendar for how long they would practice self-care?

Sarah Forst:
You know, I don’t really. Also because self-care is not just sort of doing those things for you and taking that time for yourself. That’s certainly part of it. But self-care is also going to doctor’s appointments or exercising or just sort of these mindset shifts or eating healthy. These kinds of things. So I can’t really give it an hour…at an hourly amount of time. But I would say that you should be practicing some kind of self-care every day, which probably sounds extreme to some people, but it’s actually not extreme. There’s 24 hours in a day. You can do something for yourself each day. And that would’ve sounded extreme to me while sort of before I had that mindset shift. But I even have in my planner, I have like a bullet journal. I have a little spot to write in the self-care that I did each day. And if I find that I got to the end of the day and I didn’t do anything, then I try to really make it a priority for the next day.

Daphne Gomez:
So people who are inside the Teacher Career Coach course know this about me, but I haven’t actually said it on the podcast. And I’m a little nervous for everybody’s judgment on this. But one thing that I feel like is really powerful is… And I’m… You can hear in my voice how I feel like everyone’s going to make fun of me, is looking in the mirror and confidently talking about yourself and smiling every single day. And that is a form of self-care that helps build me up and helps me conquer the day.

Sarah Forst:
Absolutely. I mean, it sounds like those are probably a form of affirmations, which is something that’s made a huge difference in my life. In the book, I have a whole list of affirmations for teachers. I think it feels really cheesy, but I always encourage people just to give it a try. We talk about it with students that positive self talk makes a big difference and it makes a big difference for teachers too.

Daphne Gomez:
I’m not sure if you were able to listen to one of my previous episodes, but I had a principal, it’s Principal Rahh, and he was talking about how he revolutionizes the way that he takes care of his teachers. One of the things that he’s actually started doing with his own professional development for his teachers is he pays them to come in on their days off and do yoga with him. He’s actually doing paid professional development with his teachers to help them implement self-care practices.

Sarah Forst:
That’s so awesome. I have a lot of sympathy for principals and administrators. It’s really a job I have no desire to do. But I just find it really heartening when there’s principals who are doing things like that, because that’s seems like it’s not the experience for the vast majority of teachers. And I do understand it because they’re under so much pressure themselves, but it really would be better for the students and for the school long term if their teachers were practicing self care. But I just think it’s hard for them to think long term when they’re just worried about this year and this year’s test scores.

Daphne Gomez:
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What are some of your favorite besides puzzles and you know, a free bath? What are of your other favorite least expensive types of self-care that you can think of?

Sarah Forst:
Least expensive? I’d say I’m going for a walk is free self-care. So is going to bed early. So is spending quality time with your partner. I honestly say the most important forms of self-care are free or are inexpensive. Again kind of just this idea of self-care being a manicure or a massage. I mean, those things are great and if you can afford them, go for it. But I don’t really think those are going to be the things that make the biggest difference in your everyday life. Building daily things into your routine I think is what’s be the most helpful. I admit I haven’t really been doing this since my baby was born, but I would love to incorporate it more. But what I used to do is every morning I would have kind of a morning mindfulness time and I’d have my first cup of coffee and I’d either journal or I love all sorts of different mindful kind of activity books or guided journals and just spend about 20 minutes on that. And that would really be kind of a good…set me up in a good mindset for the day.

Daphne Gomez:
One of the things that I found my fiance and I have been really taking advantage of is we found a botanical garden that we love here in Los Angeles and we paid for an annual membership. So we just take walks around this beautiful garden once every few weeks anytime we want to go on a walk. And it’s a change of scene and it’s really… It changes our entire mood to be able to be in this beautiful place. But also, teachers, many of us are intrinsically motivated. So I feel like I’m patting myself on the back, like, oh, I’m helping keep this art museum open or I’m helping this garden stay afloat.

Sarah Forst:
Yeah. We’re actually members of the Chicago Botanic Garden. And it’s like one of the only…maybe the only outing we’ve done since the pandemic started because it’s outside.

Daphne Gomez:
Same with us. Yeah.

Sarah Forst:
Keep at a distance.

Daphne Gomez:
Ours is the Huntington Library here.

Sarah Forst:
Oh, okay. Yeah. No, and it’s awesome just to see it, how it changes with the seasons. And I definitely recommend to teachers, even if it’s not like an official botanic garden, just checking out if they’re sort of woods or if there’s a university with a garden near you. Again, especially right now, that can be a great way to get out and spend some time in nature while still doing it safely.

Daphne Gomez:
I think one of the things I really want to touch back on is sometimes self-care might be something that’s not as necessarily easy for us to sign up for, but it’s something that’s absolutely necessary. And I think therapy is one of those things, where many of us put that at the very bottom of our list of, I would much rather try a bubble bath or a glass of wine or ride on a bicycle. But sometimes I think self-care really needs to go back towards taking care of ourselves mentally if we’re really struggling.

Sarah Forst:
Yeah, absolutely. In terms of sort of bang for your buck in terms of time spent, I would say if you’re going to spend an hour a week on something to take care of yourself, therapy or 50 minutes as I know my therapy sessions are, is really the best thing that you can do.

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah. Especially for those teachers who are really struggling. Have you talked to many teachers who have been implementing self-care and hearing testimonials of how it’s actually impacted how they’re feeling inside the classroom?

Sarah Forst:
Yes. I’m going to say it like that just because I right this minute I’m having a hard time thinking about specifics. But especially through Teacher Care Crate, I often have people reach out to me, especially first or second year teachers that have said that’s really made a difference as just kind of a reminder to practice self-care. And just I think especially it’s so crucial that first or second year to have that built in to the kind of teacher that you are going to become. And I know that’s something that I didn’t have.

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah, I think of the new teacher support, they just kind of do that blanket, remember to practice self-care and you might burn out if you don’t practice self-care, but they don’t actually give you like a plan.

Sarah Forst:
No. And I’ve definitely heard from teachers that have implemented some specific boundaries that have really helped. Like one thing I hear from a lot of people I’ve done is like taking their school email off their phone or just saying, I’m not checking my email after this time or I’m not accepting parent phone calls after this time. Or I am going to take a mental health day and just teachers saying I really needed to hear that’s okay to use my sick days. And yes, I’ve heard of that making a difference. I’m not going to say, and I say this again too in the book, like I’m not going to say that practicing self-care is going to solve the structural problems of the pressures we put on teachers. But my focus is sort of helping individual teachers. What can you personally do to make this a sustainable career for you while still advocating for the changes that need to be made on a structural level?

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah, something that I kind of…I’ll repeat over and over and over again, everybody went into this position because they had a good heart and this is what they wanted to do. If they’re finding themselves very unhappy and very stressed out, there are a couple different things that you should check out first. Are there things that you can implement, like self care, new pedagogy? Are there new practices that you can try and focus on to help you feel a little better? If not, it might be the environment. Is it your school culture that’s been kind of bringing you down and if you shift to a different grade or a different school or a different district altogether, would that help solve the problem? And if not, if none of those are necessarily working for you, it’s also okay to just admit, I’ve used these last few years to be an amazing teacher, but it’s also time for me to move on and acknowledge that I’ve tried all of the other options and it’s okay for me to walk away as well.

Sarah Forst:
Yes. Yes. I totally agree with all of that. Sorry. I keep referencing my book, but it’s just that there’s a lot of research that I did while writing that goes with all of this. And there is sort of a set of factors, environmental factors, that contribute to burnout. So even more so than the teacher’s individual mindset. And so that’s something I recommend teachers kind of go through and think about, does their school or their working environment, how do they of rate on these different factors? Because if you’re in kind of a toxic school environment, it’s going to be very difficult to have a sustainable career, even if you are doing all the right things personally.

Daphne Gomez:
And that’s one of the first lessons that I kind of talk about, is this is cheesy. But I share this story about one of my friends that she wasn’t a teacher, but she’s a graphic designer. And she reached out to me and she’s like, Daphne, I got this job. I’m a graphic designer for a puppy adoption company. How excited are you for me? I’m just going to look at pictures of puppies all day. She ended up absolutely hating that job because the people were actually very mean somehow at the puppy adoption company. And she left. And I always kind of use that as a reference to teaching of, just because she left the puppy adoption company doesn’t mean she doesn’t want puppies to be adopted. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that all puppy adoption companies are going to have the same work culture. And it also doesn’t mean that people who leave puppy adoption companies don’t think that work was admirable. It just wasn’t a good fit for that work environment.

Sarah Forst:
Yeah. That’s such a good and useful way to look at it because I know teachers put a lot of pressure and guilt on themselves. You know, if I leave teaching, I’m a bad person. If I leave this school, I don’t care about kids. Which from the outside you can just see is not true at all. But I totally understand that. And I felt the same way. So I think it is useful to look at it perhaps in a different profession, like puppies.

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah. There was a lot of guilt that I faced when I left. I felt bad that I was actually happy in the new career path that I chose. I started to feel guilty because I knew other teachers who were struggling, and I didn’t want to be happier than them at some points. And it’s just a very strange mental space that we put ourselves in because we’re so empathetic. We want everybody to be really happy and we want everyone in education to succeed. But a lot of times that comes at our own suffering. We start to forget to take care of our families or our relationships. I felt like I was so burnt out my last steer teaching that my now fiance, I don’t think we would’ve lasted maybe another year of being in a relationship because I didn’t even feel comfortable hanging out with him on weekdays, let alone weekends. I was in my classroom probably over overachieving with laminating things.

Sarah Forst:
When you are working all the time, it really takes a toll on your relationship with your partner or your family. One of the things that we like to do is watch a show together at night. We’re not big TV people, but just to watch like one show together. And my husband would sort of hopefully look up around like 8:30 or 9:00 being like, can we watch a show? And 90% of the time it’s like, no, no, I can’t. I don’t have time. And either I would be working or I’m like, no, no, I better use this time to sleep. And I remember my therapist telling me, there’s just really at the time there’s no reason a healthy 26-year-old without kids can’t have a half hour a night to watch her show with her husband. And it really just felt like I couldn’t though. And we just said like, that’s not normal. I mean, it is normal for teachers, but in general.

Daphne Gomez:
In episode seven, I talk about teacher guilt. And I shared a story where it seems really small, but my fiance and his family went to Hawaii for a milestone birthday. And his parents said, we’d love to have you. We’ll pay for your flight. We’ll kind of pay for the entire trip. And I just said, Ooh, sounds really great. And I probably need a vacation, but I really can’t make the time for it this weekend because next week is parent-teacher conferences. And it just was me managing my time poorly and not being able to say no to some of the different priorities that I thought were priorities, but were actually not really moving the needle forward. I could have taken more off of my plate that week. I could have let back a little bit and gone to Hawaii.

Sarah Forst:
Yeah. I mean, again, from an outside perspective, it’s like a free trip to Hawaii? Like you turned that down? But I totally…maybe not quite that awesome of a trip, but there-

Daphne Gomez:
It has a happy ending. We went together this past New Year and then he ended up proposing to me while we were in Hawaii, just him and I. So it has a very happy ending. I did eventually drink Chi Chi’s and go snorkeling and everything I wanted to but…

Sarah Forst:
Aw, that’s awesome. Even though it sounds crazy, oh, you would give up that trip, there were definitely times that I did that. I definitely remember there being trips that my husband was going on with his friends or his family. And I just said, no. And you don’t want to be so… It can be really hard as a teacher to take time off to travel because you just feel so rushed when you get back. But we should be able to find ways to manage that because we deserve to have those things too.

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah. And after I left teaching, I’ve worked 9-5 jobs and I’ve also scaled a business and had a full team underneath me at the same time. And I’ve juggled all these priorities. And if somebody asked me if I wanted to go to Hawaii, I’d be like, okay, cool. I will make the plan to put that into place. That sounds very important for me to get this free trip to Hawaii. But before, I hadn’t learned to value and prioritize my own life over other things.

Sarah Forst:
Yes. That really resonates with my own experience too, having had that experience of sort of mental breakdown and having gone from working all the time and then kind of having to start at rock bottom and build my way up. I’m now very protective of sort of both my mental health and my self-care and about saying yes to things like trips to Hawaii, but no to things that are too much or don’t fit in with my priorities in order to preserve that because I never want to go back to that really bad mental space that I was in.

Daphne Gomez:
We talked about it a tiny bit, but I want to dig in a little bit. I know you have a membership where you send really cute boxes of self-care items and I wanted to kind of find out a little bit more about that.

Sarah Forst:
Sure. Yeah. So I run a self-care subscription box for teachers called Teacher Care Crate and it goes out every month. Each month has kind of a different theme. And then in each month’s box, there’s an inspirational art print designed by a different artist or teacher. There is normally some kind of cute wearable item, then two bath or beauty or body products, a stationary item. And then just a few other things that go with the month’s theme. The idea is just to really have a reminder for teachers to practice self-care and just to kind of give them a little way to treat themselves. And I think I mentioned it earlier, my undergrad degree is actually in object design. So this has been a really fun project for me, kind of mixing my different interests and skill sets. I design a lot of the things that go in the crate or work with others to design them. And it’s just been a fun way to kind of merge my different interests.

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah. I absolutely love it. I’ve been looking at it on Instagram a lot and I’m always excited when I see some of the items that are on there.

Sarah Forst:
I can’t believe it’s coming up on now three years that I’ve done it. When I started it was really just like, I’m just going to try this. I literally did 25 boxes out of my house. I made the bath bombs myself that went in there. Now of course I work with companies that specialize in it. And I didn’t not have a big business plan or anything like that. I was just trying it out, and it’s done really well. And it’s been really fun to kind of expand it each month. And after we hit a thousand boxes, it got really out of control trying to do that in my house, even though I had hired workers to help me. So I transitioned that out and now in a fulfillment center where they pack the boxes. But it’s just really cool how it’s grown. And I love that we kind of have this community of teachers. I have super supportive subscribers who share their boxes every month and are so enthusiastic. It’s really a lot of fun.

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah. And I think it’s a really good example of even if you leave the puppy adoption company, you can still help those who work at puppy adoption companies in the future, right?

Sarah Forst:
Yes.

Daphne Gomez:
I love everything that you do. I’m so happy that you’ve been able to focus so much energy and so much time on creating these resources to help teachers become more aware of what they can be doing to feel better and to be happier. And so I’m so grateful that you were here today and I had a wonderful time having this discussion with you. Where can they find you if they wanted to connect with you?

Sarah Forst:
Well, thank you so much. I feel like we have a really similar mindset about a lot of issues around teaching and teacher self-care. I kind of go by two different handles on social media. There is The Designer Teacher that’s on Instagram, Facebook, and then thedesignerteacher.com. It is my website. And then for the subscription box, that’s Teacher Care Crate on Instagram and Facebook and teachercarecrate.com to subscribe. And then I do have my book, The Teachers Guide to Self-Care, which is available on Amazon, and you can just search for The Teacher’s Guide to Self-Care.

Daphne Gomez:
Awesome. And just to make everything easier, I will link all of these into the show notes. So thank you so much, Sarah, for joining us here today. It was such a great conversation and I’m just so grateful for you.

Sarah Forst:
Oh, well, thank you so much. Thanks for having me on.

Daphne Gomez:
Sarah strives to help teachers every day through her self-care subscription box made specifically for teachers, Teacher Care Crate. And she also creates meaningful classroom resources in her Teachers Pay Teacher store, The Designer Teacher. She’s also the author of The Teacher’s Guide to Self-Care. You can find all of these resources linked in today’s show notes.

If you’ve been enjoying these episodes of The Teacher Career Coach Podcast, make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss the very next episode. See you next week.

Want to connect with Sarah?

Check out Sarah’s self-care subscription box for teachers, Teacher Care Crate. or connect with her on social: IG: @thedesignerteacher and @teachercarecrate
Read Sarah’s Book The Teacher’s Guide to Self-Care

Self Care for Teachers

Want to hear more from The Teacher Career Coach Podcast?

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Help for managing teacher stress & burnout

Too many teachers downplay their mental health struggles thinking it’s just “new teacher jitters” or part of the position. My final year of teaching at a toxic school environment completely broke me. After walking away from that experience and finding happiness, I was shocked at how conditioned/numb I had become to being consistently unwell.

You should not feel intense dread about your career on a daily basis, period. If you are miserable more often than happy, let’s try to find solutions to support you:

Blog Post: Stress Management for Teachers; 5 Strategies to Implement Today

The Teacher Career Coach Podcast Episode 31: Blake Blankenbecler, Therapy for Teachers

Finally, if you’re struggling day-to-day it may be worth it to look into a therapist. Get started today with TalkSpace, a private, online therapy with flexible plans to meet your needs.

And if managing stress brought on by teaching isn’t enough, it may be time to look into alternative careers. If you’re at a loss when it comes to figuring out your options, check out our free quiz below for customized suggestions teachers transitioning out of the classroom.

What career outside the classroom is right for YOU? Free Quiz
Step out of the classroom and into a new career, The Teacher Career Coach Course