Self-care as Collective Care. Imagining a Different Way for School Leaders – imaginED

Self-care as Collective Care. Imagining a Different Way for School Leaders – imaginED

By Christina Velasco, Ed.D.(Management mentor in San Francisco Unified School District)

Systemic oppression sucks that creativity and creativity ideal out of us except if we deliberately pause and garner the creativeness, hope, and resiliency to engage in social justice management. Given the typically-unresponsive systemic and political context inside which school leaders have to operate, the want to assistance educational leaders in strategies that fill the individual and collective soul is even extra critical. We have to have to go on to think about and hope for a new way of currently being, main, and sustaining educators.

I have been an educator in San Francisco for extra than twenty yrs.  Following my tenth yr as a school principal, I took a year’s sabbatical to deliberately pause, reflect, exploration, and re-visualize what university leadership could be if we integrated self-care techniques.  I commenced the doctoral system whilst at the same time starting off a yr-prolonged sabbatical. By means of the encouragement and help of my advisor, Lynda Tredway, we re-imagined how I could interact in motion investigation when on a sabbatical. The doctoral application at East Carolina University modeled creativeness and utilized Community Learning Exchange axioms, dynamic mindfulness, how to integrate art, and a focus on fairness that I learned and shared with the Equity Centered-Experienced Finding out Neighborhood (EC-PLC) users and colleagues. The sabbatical presented the place for me to replicate and heal to deliberately give to myself so that I could re-engage, re-think about, and give again to the career.

At the commencing of this journey, I located it to be problematic to allow go and not sense responsible, I wrote:

It is complicated for me to modify to not getting at a university website or functioning. I am so accustomed to possessing anything on my calendar and complete days with back-to-back meetings… I am commencing to slowly get into a rhythm and cadence. I am releasing the guilt I experience for not staying at my previous college. I will honor the harmony of giving myself the grace to choose it easy, to delight in a slower rate of life, to generate, make things… I am mastering how to stability new matters now I am building new routines: pacing out my readings, producing papers, and imagining about the concentration of apply for graduate university.

In the initial number of months of the sabbatical, I concentrated on self-treatment: It took me lots of months to unravel the complexity of how my identification is so closely tied to my management get the job done.

In my job as a community-college educator and activist researcher, I partnered with 4 women academic leaders in the San Francisco Unified University District in the Bay Spot of California working with an (EC-PLC) as Co- Practitioner Scientists (CPR). The running theory of motion was: If we have interaction in iterative cycles of inquiry in an EC-PLC to improve academic leaders’ person and collective talents to much better take care of anxiety by deepening relationships, then school leaders can fortify and sustain their work of fairness, excellence, and social justice leadership. We relied on the adhering to to accomplish our objective: co-building and using Espacio Sano (sane area), engaging in testimonios (storytelling), and discovering and practicing self-care tactics.

The associates of the EC-PLC collaborated and re-imagined with me to raise our unique and collective qualities to use self-treatment methods. By way of this system, we developed an Espacio Sano, a distinctive expert understanding house, in which and through which we practiced self-treatment methods and deepened interactions. The EC-PLC of two college principals, an assistant superintendent, a leadership mentor, and me, who had various roles and ordeals in our college district, presented a number of perspectives and understanding for the challenge.  We discovered, in addition to the typical guidance, leaders need other aid to deal with do the job-linked pressure so they can sustain their endurance and effectively-remaining to do the perform of fairness and excellence in educational facilities.

Additionally, we realized that females instructional leaders are protected and brave adequate to be vulnerable and intense in an Espacio Sano. In this space, we emerged as wholehearted leaders embracing our integral selves in primary faculties we can lead with both equally intellect and heart, the brainheart. We learned wholehearted leaders attended to their psychological, intellectual, spiritual, and bodily self-care. Wholehearted leaders remained related with pals and networks. Wholehearted leaders recognized and talked about emotions and delivered spaces for many others to do so simply because it supported collective resilience. Wholehearted leaders utilized different measures to gauge what is truly likely on in our universities. Wholehearted leaders follow self-treatment as collective care. When space and time are set up and crafted by these who inhabit them, transformation comes about.

When Espacio Sano and wholehearted leadership work in conjunction with each and every other they make a nexus. The nexus emboldens Self-treatment as Collective Care, the MeWe. This nexus encompasses the African philosophy of Ubuntu: I am since you are. “Ubuntu is a Zulu term which serves as the non secular basis of African societies…Ubuntu articulates simple respect and compassion for others” (Matshe, 2013, p. 18). It is in this spirit, the MeWe represents the mixture of holding room for oneself and some others. This house gives fodder for liberating schooling and social justice leadership. It is a symbiotic marriage: Espacio Sano is established mainly because of wholehearted leaders, and we have wholehearted leaders since we build Espacio Sano.

The MeWe: Self-treatment as Collective Care debunks the possibly/or pondering of the skilled or the own, the mind or the coronary heart, the warrior or the healer, the outer get the job done or the internal work, the canonical or the non-canonical of white supremacy lifestyle (Jones & Okun, 2016), and embraces each/and (Eubanks et al., 1997). Transformation takes place in the revolution of the Me turned upside down to sort We. The intersection of the Me with We turns into a platform “where practitioners could consider and develop, individually and collectively, and the place the course of action of alter could be nurtured, drawing on, but not constrained and dominated by, the affect of existing exercise or the specifications of coverage to initiate ‘solutions’ or clear up ‘problems’” (Hulme et al., 2009, p. 541). In the MeWe: Self-treatment as Collective Care, it is both of those/and. It is both qualified and own, brainheart, the outer and internal do the job, the canonical and non-canonical built-in. The MeWe: Self-treatment as Collective Care is as considerably about establishing knowledge and proclaiming power as it is about embracing our vulnerability and uncertainty independently and collectively. In Western societies, far too usually dichotomies exist between me and we, the unique and collective. Espacio Sano and wholehearted management solution discovering with non-Western options wherever the high-quality strains in between unique and collective mix. I skilled and witnessed the energy of the We in this do the job of self-treatment as collective care.

EC-PLC principal Claudia Valle designed routines and insurance policies that include self-care as an crucial element of training and studying for grown ups and students. She made structures to present focused time to self-care in weekly get the job done schedules and protocols to integrate self-treatment practices in the place of work. District leaders like EC-PLC assistant superintendent Grant recognized and promulgated an ethic of treatment by integrating a month to month wellness hour at each of the principal conferences. These techniques maintain the customers of the local community and make the vital resilience the MeWe: Self-care as Collective Care.


Collectively, we enacted a radical self-treatment that is liberating and fundamental.

I consider treatment of Me so that We can better consider care of other individuals. In the MeWe: Self-treatment as Collective Care leaders embrace integration, both equally the canonical and non-canonical means of understanding and currently being. Collectively, we enacted a radical self-care that is liberating and fundamental. The MeWe: Self-treatment as Collective Treatment framework is reconceptualized as a promising 3rd place for private and qualified discovering.

As a particular journey and a journey with others, the collective conclusions reaffirmed the great importance of interconnectedness and the integration of the two the approaches of realizing and means of performing, the MeWe: Self-treatment as Collective Care. When we honor and acquire care of ourselves, we are better geared up to interact with other individuals, bolster just about every other, hold our imaginations lively, and carry our greatest selves a la lucha para la justicia.

Christina Velasco, Ed. D. is a passionate educational social justice leadership coach. She provides fairness-centered coaching to San Francisco school leaders.


Eubanks, E., Parish, R., & Smith, D. (1997). Shifting the discourse in schools. In P. M. Corridor (Ed.), Race, ethnicity, and multiculturalism. Garland.

Hulme, R., Cracknell, D., & Owens, A. (2009). Discovering in 3rd spaces building transprofessional understanding by means of practitioner enquiry. Academic Motion Exploration, 17(4), 537-550.

Jones, K., & Okun, T. (2016). Dismantling racism: A workbook for social alter groups. Source Technology. dRworks-workbook.pdf

Matshe, G. (2013, August 3). Ubuntu- a man or woman is a person through other people: Getrude Matshe at TEDxTeAro.

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Velasco, C. (2021). Espacio Sano: How social justice educational leaders cultivate caring and sharing [Doctoral dissertation, East Carolina University]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.


















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