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Journey as an Educator by Rachel Groen

My name is Rachel, and I am an elementary teacher, a yoga teacher for kids and adults, and the Curriculum Creator for Wymbin’s Mind and Move program. I was first drawn to teaching after a couple of summers working at camp, where I fell in love with the creativity and imagination that kids bring to every part of life. I wanted to be involved! My parents are both educators, so I knew that it was also in my wheelhouse, and maybe in my genes. I went to the University of British Columbia, Okanagan for my Bachelor of Elementary Education then began teaching in Calgary. Most of my time in the classroom was spent teaching grades 1 and 2. These kids are wonderfully curious and full of great energy for learning. I loved this setting, but I began to burn out after a couple of years. During that time, a quote from Dr. Jody Carrington was always on my mind: “If you aren’t taking care of your wellness, you are taking care of your illness.” I dug deep and prioritized wellness, whereas many teachers accept burnout as “part of the job” or eventually take stress-leave.

I made a conscious choice to prioritize my health, and yoga has always been my strongest wellness practice. With the pandemic in full swing, I had more time to reflect on my career as a full-time teacher, and I knew that I needed to take steps to balance my life. In the summer of 2020, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training in Nelson, BC. It was life-giving, and I knew that it was in the right place for me. With the momentum from this yoga training and its positive effects on me and my relationships, I took the kids and youth yoga teacher training at Wymbin in the fall of 2020. I was substitute teaching at the time and finally found a healthy work-life balance. I still loved being a teacher, but I started to be more creative about how teaching could work for me. I felt, and still feel, extremely passionate about yoga, mental health for kids, and teacher wellness. Through Wymbin, I found a place that also believes in these values–I felt aligned.

I see and empathize with the stress of full-time school teachers who deal with overflowing classes, anxious kids, COVID, academic pressure, and the list goes on. My vision is to help these teachers and classrooms find balance, find peace in the day, and find ways to care for their well-being. Believe it or not, while it can be difficult, there are chances to carve out time for mindfulness throughout the day. We need to prioritize mindfulness, as kids and teachers are more stressed than ever! When I go into classes now as a Mind and Move Educator or a substitute teacher, I always teach yoga movement and breathing techniques, and it makes a difference in the quality of the day for everyone. It actually adds time–if you can believe it. All students and teachers feel relieved and calm whenever I incorporate this time into the school day. Simple breathwork and calming music can greatly relieve anxiety! With this in mind, I am excited to enhance the Mind and Move curriculum in order to meet the needs of all kids and teachers. I hope you can find a break in your busy days to take good care of yourself. I can’t wait to improve the well-being of kids, teens, and teachers in Calgary!

Download this breathing exercise to try at home!

Square Breathing
Download PDF • 62KB

- Rachel Groen

Rachel Groen is an elementary teacher, a yoga teacher for kids and adults, and the curriculum creator for Wymbin’s Mind and Move program. Her vision is to help teachers and classrooms find balance, peace in the day, and ways to care for their well-being.

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