Teacher Appreciation Week brings small snippets of praise that go unspoken throughout the year. Across the country, PTOs are serving lunch, kindergarteners are bringing freshly picked tulips, and donuts come to school by the dozens to thank teachers for their dedication to children. For a moment, educators set aside the stress of the workday to smile and enjoy the fact that the public recognizes how committed we are to shaping the young people we work with every day into fine adults.
We also recognize that a week of recognition is not the reason why we do this work. We know that we hold the most valuable resource in our hands every day: the future. In order to do this very difficult, high-demand, high-risk work on a daily basis, we must be intrinsically motivated to do it with vigor and passion. It’s the belief that we are providing our students with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the world that keeps us going. That is teacher efficacy, and while it is nice to be honored, recognized and celebrated for the work we do, it is up to each one of us to look inside ourselves and build this belief. To build our own efficacy.
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, here are three ways to celebrate yourself as a teacher and continually rejuvenate your intrinsic motivation to positively impact your students:
Spend time reviewing the day’s events in your thoughts. Identify areas where things went well and internally celebrate them. And also think about things that needed improvement. What might you have done differently? How could you have improved? Thinking about your practice and identifying ways to move forward, even in your areas of weakness, rejuvenates your attitude and keeps you from feeling stuck or helpless. Reflection helps you celebrate your success and map your next steps for moving forward.
We are social people. Building effective relationships with our colleagues allows us to work with one another in rewarding ways. Relationships built on trust and rapport provide outlets for us to process our thinking, gain feedback about our practice, and celebrate our small wins. It is our community of trust that can lift us up when we are feeling down, remind us of our mission, and support us in getting back on track. Collaboration gives us a feeling of belonging and it reminds us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
Build your skills and capacity as an educator. Learn a new strategy. Visit a colleague’s classroom. Get feedback on student work. Expanding our repertoire of practice increases our level of professionalism and builds our confidence as experts in teaching and learning. Just like the surgeon who stays current on the latest techniques, we have an obligation to keep up with research on teaching and learning. Brain science, instructional practices, whole-school reform…the list of content to be learned is endless. Each new learning builds our efficacy and increases the opportunities for our students to be academically successful. Learning something new is key to continually building our internal motivation.
Take time this week to gracefully accept and enjoy the praise that comes with Teacher Appreciation Week. Indeed, they are well deserved. And remember that you hold the variables to your own success. Celebrating your work daily with reflection, collaboration and education will bring internal satisfaction year-round.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week from IEE!