I am going to take of my explicit autism/special ed teacher/aspiring BCBA hat right now and get in to some real talk that teachers from any area may be able to relate to.
During the week of Teacher Appreciation, my Instagram has been bombarded by a slew of flowers, food, gift certificates other teachers have gotten from parents and administration. My reaction is more surprise than anything. Working in high needs schools my whole career, I’m not accustomed to receiving an onslaught of tangible goods for any and every holiday. And I'm okay with that!
I have heard colleagues complain about getting nothing during Teacher Appreciation Week. Like I said, I usually have low expectations in terms of getting recognized so it's never really phased me. I have, however, gotten in to the slump of not feeling appreciated. It’s easy for that to happen when we bust our butts in the name of educating children that aren’t ours. Your feelings are valid, and you do deserve to be appreciated for what you do. Speaking from experience, however, it's not a worthwhile endeavor do mope around because you didn’t get a pat on the back for your hard work.
Here are some tips for those of you who might not feel so appreciated during Teacher Appreciation Week:
I remember reading an article that said, when you're feel under appreciated, to show your appreciation for others. Let your coworker know that you’re in awe of her data-collecting skills, or you love the way she decorated a bulletin board. If you work in a setting with paraprofessionals, show them appreciation by starting a week at your school just for them. If you can swing it, buy some candy and give out some goody bags with nice cards. You don’t have to lay down mad cash to show somebody that you care about them and what they’re doing (side note: you can write off work gifts and things like this on your taxes. Whooo!). In return, your coworkers will be so thankful and may even be inspired to show appreciation themselves.
Start your own teacher appreciation week celebrations
Get together with your colleagues and brainstorm ways to celebrate. Maybe each teacher has to buy a gift bag and fill it with teacher goodies for a Secret Santa type deal where everyone gets a bag for somebody else. Maybe have a breakfast where everyone brings in one item and you all can celebrate together. Heck, just set up a happy hour somewhere to celebrate and socialize. Sometimes it’s not enough to wish for things to happen, you have to make them happen yourself!
Understand why there might be no teacher appreciation celebrations
Don’t always take a lack of teacher appreciation at your school as a diss. Maybe you work in a high needs area and the parents simply don’t have money to shell out for gifts. Perhaps your school budget barely has money for supplies, let alone a catered lunch. Maybe your administrator has two kids in college and she can’t really afford to reach in to her own pocket for a staff of 20 or 30 teachers. Whatever it is, don’t take it personally!
Think about your why
None of us got in to teaching because of the great job perks or salary. We might be lucky to get a free burrito or 10% off our favorite clothing store. Everyone has their own reasons, and it’s important to remember them and the rewards you get from helping your students.
Don’t dismiss complements and appreciation, no matter who it's from or how small
If somebody goes out of their way to do or say something nice, make sure that you are appreciative. Showing how thankful you are will inspire them to show their appreciation again and again. Some of the biggest compliments I have received are from coworkers about my great room setup, or from my own family that tells me all the time how proud they are of what I do.
At the very least, please know that I am super appreciative of what you do! Special ed teachers, I'm in awe of you and I know that the people that had fought for our students to the right for education are so thankful that you are keeping their vision alive. General education teachers, I don't know how you do it! I personally think having a class of 20-30 students is majorly challenging and I don't know if I could ever do it!
The folks at Teachers Pay Teachers are also thankful for us and all that we do. There is a sale going on right now where you can get 28% products from my store! Don't forget to use code CELEBRATE to get the full percentage off!