Mary Dagani | July 2018

Teacher Self Care: Nourish Your Inner Artist

Hooray, you made it!  Summer is here and you are ready for lots of rest and relaxation, right?  Are you sure?  If you are like most teachers, you may be physically tired from teaching all year, and I bet if you inward, and deep enough, you can hear your inner artist crying out for a little TLC.  So why not take the time, since you have it, and treat your inner artist to some fulfilling activities.


Carl Sagan was quoted as saying: “The brain is like a muscle.  When it is in use we feel very good.  Understanding is joyous.”  Summer is a great time to give your gray matter a little workout.  Reading is a fantastic way to stretch your horizons.  You have a vast array of articles at your fingertips right here in the monthly ArtsEdLab magazine.  Have you thought about attending a conference?  If you are interested in a fantastic Arts Integration Conference, without leaving your comfy couch, I would highly recommend you register for the Arts Integration & STEAM Online Conference right here at  With keynote speakers such as Peter Reynolds and Eric Whitacre.  These influential guests, along with countless sessions by creative educators, will give you the perfect amount of inspiration to your already artistic brain.


About now, your body may also be feeling a little overwhelmed and unbalanced.  You are used to the routine of getting up and keeping busy everyday.  So, instead of slamming on the brakes and sitting on the couch binge watching your favorite series, let’s look at a few ways to slow yourself down and restore your energy!

Unfortunately, we teachers have so many plates spinning all at once, that we never fully commit to focus our attention on just one thing.  Yes, it is a hazard of our job, but there are ways to combat the oh, so dreaded “monkey mind”!  To aide us, let’s look to the Far East for some help.  One of the best ways to slow down our thoughts and help regain focus and clarity, is through meditation.  I highly recommend an App called: Insight Timer.  The huge selection of pre-recorded meditations and the variety of lengths make it a perfect fit into any schedule.  And if you are daring, I also recommend looking into the practices of Qi-Gong or Tai-Chi.  Both of these ancient arts involve slow, controlled movements, and are beneficial to both stress reduction and muscle flexibility.  There are many quality videos on YouTube such at this one to get you started.


And finally we get to the heart of the matter.  What about that little childlike voice within you who wants to take time to create?  I say give it what it needs!  If you are interested in feeding your inner creative and have the budget to do so, great!  But if you don’t have the finances to take lessons with a master artist, then perhaps you can try one of these alternatives to fulfill your heart’s calling.

There are so many online opportunities to learn a new technique or sharpen your existing artistic skills.  For less than the cost of a burger and fries combo each month (And much healthier for you, too!) you can join sites such as or  Each of these venues provides well thought out lessons that you can view at your own pacing.  And if you get stuck on a concept, you can watch and rewatch the video as often as you like.  I, personally, have found many inspirational classes to feed my inner seamstress on both of these sites.

And don’t forget the plethora of creative tutorials to be found on YouTube for no cost!  This may even be incentive to develop other creative callings that are urging you to try something new like watercolor painting, needlepoint, quilting, or… You get the idea!  It is all about having fun and feeding your creative spirit.

Speaking of which, my heart has been calling me to try my hand at watercolor flowers.  I’m off to watch my favorite watercolor video.  I hope you too, listen to that soft voice calling you to expand your horizons as an artist.  Now is the time.

About the Author

Mary is a STEAM TOSA, Project Lead the Way Launch Lead Teacher, and an Orff Schulwerk music specialist. Her eclectic background, along with her 28 years of elementary classroom teaching, gives her a unique perspective on Arts Integration.