Chris Hogan, an EntreLeadership personality with Dave Ramsey shares: “Everyone needs AIR” but what does that mean? Quite literally, it means that we all need air and oxygen to breathe. Even though we can not see it, we need it to survive but many of us take the air we breathe for granted and pay no attention to it even though the air has a direct effect on us. You see if the air we breathe is toxic it can be harmful to our health but if the air is clean, it is a benefit. In another meaning, Chris Hogan uses AIR as an acronym that means, appreciation, inspiration, and recognition. Chris believes that these three elements help us to breathe better.
Why is AIR important:
Stopping to think about the quality of the air at your school, in your community, in your relationships, and your life can be eye awakening. Do you know if the AIR you take in is growing, motivating, and beneficially inspiring you and others, or is it toxic? You see, good quality AIR can take you to places you have never been before yet toxic AIR can lead you to places you do not want to be. Remember if you are not breathing you are not living. As the season of appreciation, reflection and the time when most begin to plan out goals for the next year and begin thinking about New Year’s resolutions has arrived, what have you been taking for granted? Who and what are you appreciative for? What is inspiring you and who are you giving recognition to? What is the superpower that is keeping you going? Let’s be honest, 2020 has been very different for everyone. For many millions of people, this year has been one of the most difficult years for a lot of reasons. As a community, we have all had to adjust to changes unlike we have ever experienced. This week’s blog will focus on appreciation, as part of AIR and provide an example from Terri, a veteran educator of 20+ years of how teachers can receive intrinsic appreciation from students and others. She will also provide suggestions on how parents and everyone else can show their appreciation.
Terri’s Story: I am an Educator: What’s your Superpower?
I recently found a photo from 1998 of “Maria”, one of my Kindergarten students. On the back of the photo, Maria’s mom wrote “Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for Miss Maria! She is such a big girl now!” This photo is so meaningful. Maria’s mom took the time to write me a note and finding it now is like finding a long lost relative. It brought me back to many fond memories and led me to revisit why appreciation is important.
It is the little things that make me feel appreciated in such a profound profession. Like when I found out that one of my third-grade parents could not read and I found them help. Then later finding out that this parent graduated from nursing school truly warmed my heart, even now. Seeing the smiles on my students’ faces and the light bulbs that went off when they “got it”. It’s in the days that “Tommy” did not have a temper tantrum. It’s the time when I asked a school Counselor for help with a homeless family and found out that without their help, the dad could have died without medical treatment for his pneumonia. It is the thanks that I got in the forms of apple ornaments for my Christmas tree (I started a teacher tree!) and the misspelled cards I received from my students. My all-time favorite handmade card was one that read: “Dear Principalie, Happy Birthday, I’m glad you didn’t drop dead today”. Misspellings and all. He was glad I was alive. I am too. Those are examples of times that even now, I am appreciative of the field I chose and what made it all worthwhile. It’s times like those that made me realize being a Teacher was my superpower.
How can you use intrinsic appreciation from students and others to keep you going?
If you have been teaching for 20 years or this is your first year, you know that you are not in this profession for the money. You most probably have heard the saying: “If you can’t do, teach”. How can teaching be a secondary profession when it touches all professions? When you think about it, Astronauts and Presidents all had teachers. Always remember that YOU are important, YOU matter! Your superpower is teaching. You do not only work 8:00 – 3:00, ten months a year, and you put in a lot of overtime in thought and deed. If you are a hybrid teacher, you are burning both ends of the candle. This realistic description sounds like a 24/7 job. So why then, do people do it? And why do teachers return year after year? We know it’s not the money. It’s all of the little things that the students and others do to show their appreciation then and even now.
It’s the many little things, like your school’s family atmosphere and feelings of empowerment. Even if you are in a not so friendly atmosphere, remembering what it’s it’s all about is important. (The kids!)
How Can Parents and Others Show Appreciation:
Take a few minutes to think about the last time you genuinely showed appreciation to an educator or someone for something they had done, or are doing? Take a moment to think about the last time you hand wrote a thank you card to someone? Appreciation is important and many people including perhaps yourself, need appreciation. You can appreciate teachers by showing that you care. That really does go a long way. It may be that package of copy paper you send in with your child (for a lot of teachers, that’s worth more than gold!), or the photo with a note on the back. It may be a smile, a quick note, or hello in the hall. Or it may be a poster thanking them for being essential workers – as they are essential to all of us now and forever.
If we take the acronym for AIR to heart, we can all start using words of appreciation to breathe AIR into ourselves, our teachers, our communities, and our lives. Words are powerful and words of appreciation can have a powerful impact on someone's life, even during difficult times. Chris Hogan says, that “It’s hard to be hateful when you are grateful.” Remember to show appreciation, we all need it!
Thinking about a career in teaching? Go for it with your eyes wide open. This is not an easy job, but the wealth of memories you will store up will last you a lifetime. The intrinsic appreciation is worth it. Like AIR is vital, appreciation can be a vital tool!!
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