Aside from parents, educators are often the most influential people in a child’s life. They play a critical role in shaping hearts and minds while laying the foundations for social, emotional, and academic success. Yet the profession is often perceived as an easy job making many teachers feel undervalued and unimportant.
It seems that as a society, we are perhaps neglecting one of the most precious commodities we have. Shouldn't we be bolstering and supporting those who have such a huge influence on our kids? Now is the time to help educators improve wellbeing and restore their passion for making a difference as they equip our kids for life.
Why is it Important to Show Teacher Appreciation?
Every human being on the planet needs to feel appreciated and valued. We need to believe that what we do matters to give us a sense of purpose and boost self-esteem and enthusiasm.
Teachers are no different and are perhaps more worthy of acknowledgement and praise. Their emotional and physical wellness matters and positive or negative, it can have a huge impact on student learning and wellbeing.
Why We Need to Support Teachers:
Apart from the fact that human beings should support one another, neglecting the welfare of a teacher can have dire consequences for learning and outcomes. Those who are fed up and resentful may not be able to contribute as their best, which can be devastating for their grade and their school.
1. Poor Classroom Environment
Teachers may not have the capacity to build and manage a positive and safe learning environment. This can result in disruptive and unpleasant classroom culture where students feel disengaged or neglected.
2. Substandard Learning
If educators struggle to show up to work their attention is not focused on delivering a quality learning experience. They may find it difficult to prepare engaging lessons or provide individual attention to students who need it.
3. Decreased Student Achievement
Student learning and achievement suffers when their teacher is unable to deliver their lessons to a high standard. When numerous teachers are struggling, it can lead to poor results at a school level.
4. Less Student Support
The capacity to offer support to others diminishes when a person is stressed and overwhelmed. Instead of being thoughtful and understanding of student needs and behavior they may be impatient and resort to punishing students who act out or struggle to keep up.
5. Reduced Student Wellbeing and Attendance
When students are in a tense and disorganized classroom, they simply don’t want to be there. Being forced to attend school each day can have a detrimental effect on their emotional wellbeing. If grades slip because of poor learning experiences, it can negatively impact their confidence and self-esteem.
6. Poor Communication
A good relationship between teachers and parents is important. It can make a huge difference to the support a student receives at home and the trust a parent has in their teacher. Overwhelmed educators may not have the time or energy to communicate with parents or other their peers. This can lead to misunderstandings and a lack of collaboration and support.
Why Do Teachers Need Extra Support Now?
Teaching can be challenging and stressful at the best of times, but the pandemic added another layer of complexity. During lockdown, teachers were expected to quickly adapt to the world of online learning, socially distanced classrooms, and often both at the same time. This added pressure left many teachers overwhelmed and their passion for teaching was replaced with dissatisfaction and burnout.
Merrimack College published their Educator Survey in February 2023. “The results paint a picture of a disillusioned, exhausted workforce. A little more than half of teachers are satisfied with their jobs, and only 12 percent say they’re “very satisfied” with their jobs, down from 39 percent in 2012. More than half of teachers said they likely wouldn’t advise their younger self to pursue a career in teaching.”
The survey also noted that “44 percent of teachers said they’re likely to quit and find a different job within the next two years.”
Around three-fourths of teachers surveyed had considered leaving their positions during the 2022-23 school year, with more than half considering positions outside education. Teachers describe the increased workload, ongoing stress, and lack of support from administrators and parents as factors that led them to consider leaving.
Monash University noted that “70 per cent of Australian teachers don’t feel that the teaching profession is respected or appreciated by the public.”
The key findings of the report revealed:
As many schools are now facing critical post-pandemic staff shortages, it’s time to take teacher wellbeing a lot more seriously. This is essential for principals and administrators to do what they can to advocate for their staff with a big focus on wellbeing. Parents can also support their teacher by being more understanding of the added pressure they now experience and show appreciation for their efforts.
Teacher appreciation week is a great time to make the effort to lift spirits but that shouldn't replace regular expressions of gratitude.
How Do You Make Teachers Feel Appreciated?
Acknowledgment and appreciation for their hard work and dedication has a significant impact on morale and motivation. Teachers who feel appreciated are more likely to experience job satisfaction and have higher levels of self-esteem. Better teacher wellbeing results in better outcomes for students.
Meaningful Ways to Show Teacher Appreciation:
A meaningful gift is something that supports your teachers' mental health and wellbeing. Look for something that boosts their self-esteem or encourages them to take time for themselves and value their health.
1. Put it in Writing
There’s nothing quite as nice as a meaningful compliment that’s put in writing. It can be a treasured keepsake to read when morale is low, or when a teacher needs some extra motivation. A heartfelt note or card may be the perfect reminder of the passion and purpose a teacher started with.
2. Adult Coloring
Encourage your teacher to relax and recharge with a coloring book and some pencils. We know coloring is great for kids but believe it or not, adult coloring is also widely accepted as a tool for better wellbeing. It works by shifting your attention away from yourself to focus it on the present-moment event, much like a meditation.
Clinical psychologist Scott M. Bea, PsyD, says coloring is low stakes and pleasurable. “It is hard to screw up coloring, and, even if you do, there is no real consequence. Adult coloring can be a wonderful escape, rather than a demanding test of our capacities.”
FREE poster and coloring page to gift to a teacher.
3. Essential Oils
There is currently not enough research to advocate for or against the effectiveness of essential oils. What I do know is how I feel when I use them myself. I love the aroma (peppermint is my favorite) and feel comforted and more relaxed when I use them. Whether this is a placebo effect or not is not important to me. I have a range of fragrances that I combine in my diffuser and multiple roll-on blends. These are handy to pop in your bag.
One thing to make sure of is that you use quality organic oils and avoid synthetic variants which can be toxic.
4. Positive Affirmations
When you have a negative mindset, it can help to use affirmations to improve your outlook. Positive affirmations have proven to be highly effective for both children and adults. The National Library of Medicine published a study that documents how reward centers in the brain light up on an MRI when self-affirmations are practiced.
Dr. David R Hamilton, PhD. says to make an affirmation effective, you need to make it realistic and achievable. If an affirmation feels out of reach, "if the gap between where you are and where the affirmation says you are is too big, then they can make some people feel worse."
Positive affirmations help cultivate self-love. Self-love is not selfish; it's about acknowledging the need to take care of ourselves so we can be our best version for others. Self-love is seen as a positive psychology practice to help people manage their emotions and mental wellbeing so they can thrive.
5. Gratitude Journal
When we feel stressed and overwhelmed, seeing our situation through a glass half-full lens isn't easy. But science proves that “gratitude interventions do appear to significantly increase happiness, wellbeing, and positive mood”.
Gratitude works by helping people refocus on what they have instead of what they haven't. It may take some time but with practice a positive and abundant mental state grows. But it's not just your mind that can benefit as giving thanks can also help people sleep better, lower stress and improve relationships.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Research shows that those who write in gratitude journals are more satisfied with their lives. It's also reported that the effects of journaling can be maintained for up to a month but for long-lasting effects, journaling should be a regular practice.
A gratitude journal is a wonderful gift to show you care about teacher wellbeing. In as little as 3-minutes a day, teachers can start to change their mindset to one of growth rather than lack.
6. A Grand Gesture
Rally the parents in your grade to contribute to an experience. A hot air balloon ride, day at the spa, or a pedicure is an amazing gift to show someone how special and loved they are. Get the kids involved by making thank you cards, and all come together to surprise your teacher. A meaningful gesture like this will be uplifting and treasured.
If you're a teacher who's had success with a wellbeing strategy, please email me so I can include it in this post to help others who may be struggling.
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