3 Ways to Love Our Teachers Well
We can all agree that the 2020-2021 school year took an extreme toll on teachers. The rollercoaster of COVID-19 led to exponentially high levels of stress, overwhelm, exhaustion, and burn out among our kids’ teachers. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, teaching is one of the most stressful occupations in the United States. Before the pandemic, our teachers were already burning out. When we added in all the new expectations and demands of teaching during the pandemic it’s no surprise that their feelings were rooted in anxiety.
Before I was a therapist, I was a teacher. I taught elementary school and junior high for many years. One thing I know for sure, parents and community members can play a significant role in supporting teachers and showering them with love in ways that will help them cope with anxiety and stress during what’s most likely to be another exhausting year for our teachers.
Let’s commit to showing our teachers extra love during this new school year.
Here are three ways we can show some our teachers some love this school year.
Start small. Tell your kids’ teachers you appreciate all they do. It’s free, takes minimal time, and can create a lasting impact. Send a quick email, write a card, or send an email to their principal bragging on the great work they are doing with your child. My most prized possession I have from my time as a teacher is the folder I have saved holding all the notes and cards I received from parents and students over my years as a teacher. I will treasure them forever. Take some time to tell your child’s teachers what your child enjoys most about their class or some fun things you are noticing they are learning. Show them gratitude and your appreciation for the way they show up for your child each and every day. This may seem simple but trust me, these small outreaches of support make a huge impact on the way our teachers view the work they are doing with our kids. There’s no better way to relieve the stress of a teacher than to tell them you see them, value them, and respect the work they do daily.
Pamper your kids’ teachers. Every second of a teacher’s day is hectic. From drinking cold coffee to scarfing down a soggy lunch in less than 30 minutes, teachers are always running from one activity to another with their students. Somewhere in between staff meetings, recess monitor duty, lesson plan writing, responding to emails, parent meetings, and of course, class time teaching, teachers seldom have time for any type of self-care or stress relief during the school day. I remember the smallest things bringing me so much joy when I was teaching. A parent showing up with my favorite Starbucks drink to having lunch delivered for me on my birthday would make a hectic, stressful day feel fresh and even a little exciting. If you are ready to go bigger, teachers love Amazon gift cards to help stock their classrooms and of course massage gift cards are always a big winner.
Be supportive. The most impactful way we can show our teachers love is by offering them our support. Whether it’s the way we communicate with teachers, advocating for the difficult work they do, or as I shared earlier, showing them our gratitude, being supportive is the best way we can show them love and help to be a part of the solution of reducing burn out in our teachers. Most teachers have anywhere from 40-120 students that are in their care. In order to meet the needs of all students, teachers have to set boundaries. This looks like scheduled time for responding to emails, meeting with parents in person, and meeting/tutoring time with students. One important way we can show our teachers that we support the work they do is by honoring the boundaries teachers set as well as teaching our kids to do the same.
Let’s come together during this new school year to show our teachers an outpouring of love for all the work they do to educate our kids and help them have a year full of gratitude, grace, and support.