Do educators take time to appreciate themselves?

As I come to the close of almost a decade of Teacher Appreciation weeks, I am curious about what Teacher Appreciation really means to hardworking educators across the country.  Teacher Appreciation week gives students and parents the opportunity to #thankateacher, but how many students and parents spend that time thanking educators for the tireless hours that they spend working with, caring for and nurturing their children?  Most importantly, how many times do educators reflect on how much time they spend doing the work? Many times, this week is reserved for administrators, reaching back and showing how essential their faculty and staff really are to the school environment.  Although this is important, I would like to take a moment to reflect on what teaching really means to me as one of those self-proclaimed hardworking educators.  Each year, I begin with a sense of completion as I realize that the year that I am walking into has to be better or more successful than the prior year.  My challenge, as a teacher, is one that is centered around growth and professional development with my students and colleagues.  During pre-planning, time is spent looking back on the mistakes, challenges and successes of the year before.  However, in those moment, many decisions have to be made concerning what the upcoming year should look like.  When I begin looking at the mistakes that I made the year before, I start with my students and their growth, then I reflect on my time management and lastly, I look at the time that I spend with my coworkers and dissect the value, hoping that we have more positive and less negative moments.  All of these experiences comprise a personal professional plan that I create in order to address each one of these areas.  By mid-year, many of the changes that I have put in place are either perfected or abandoned. I begin to center my thoughts so that I can objectively look at what is working and what is not working.  I also begin to prepare myself personally for the end of the year.  So many things happen during this time and these thing force me to look at my next steps.  It is also during this time that Teacher Appreciation comes around and I realize that we, as educators, work really hard to consistently be the best version of ourselves as professionals.  This week should not be the only time that we remind ourselves of that.  This sentiment should be our personal reflection always. Regardless of how many small tokens of appreciation we receive as educators, we must take the time to appreciate ourselves for preparing the next generation of leaders.  I cannot express how often I forget that this is one of the most meaningful professions and spending one week reflecting on that is not enough.  I have firmly decided to spend each year in reflection, charting a journey of appreciation for small, medium or large wins.

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