What Kids with Low Self-Esteem Say

 

A guest article from Chris, publisher of TeachingWoodwork.com

 

When the children in your class look in the mirror, do you think they like what they see?

What do they think about the world around them?

Do they think they are loved and valued or do they feel judged and inadequate?

It is normal for a youngster to lack confidence at times. However, if a child persistently struggles with feelings of worthlessness and incompetence, then there is a huge problem. They could be dealing with low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem is debilitating to young people. It makes them have a negative image of themselves that is completely removed from reality. They harbor harsh opinions and beliefs about themselves that when they persist long enough, cripple their lives.

Low self-esteem eats away at a child’s happiness. It creates fear and expects failure. Indeed, it can be physically, emotionally and psychologically debilitating.

While some signs of low self-esteem are easy to sport, others could be a bit obscure. However, the language that the youngster uses could be the clearest indication that they are suffering from low self-esteem.

Examples of Things young People say when suffering Low Self-esteem

‘I don’t deserve it.’ ‘I am not worth it.’ ‘I am stupid.’

Shame is a constant small voice at the back of the mind of a child who is dealing with low self-esteem. Shame makes them feel that they are:

  • Not worthy.
  • Not smart enough
  • Not slim enough
  • Not good looking enough
  • Not rich enough

Simply:

  • Not enough!

Shame induces the feeling of worthlessness in young people and crushes their self-esteem because they judge themselves by impossible standards.

‘I am such a loser.’  ‘I always knew I couldn’t do this.’  ‘This is so hopeless.’ ‘I do everything wrong.’ ‘I will never learn.’

Young people with low self-esteem are pessimists at heart. They only see hopelessness, and they are overly critical of themselves. Even before they try something, they already know that they cannot do it. Pessimism will make any young adult perceive a negative outcome when you and pretty much everyone else see it much differently.

Because of low self-esteem, you may also find they constantly make fun of themselves and uses derogatory words when talking about themselves. This is because they believe that other people constantly think about their shortcomings all the time. Hence, they feel it is better to make fun of these drawbacks themselves before the people around them bring them up.

Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.  Sorry.

A young person with low self-esteem will apologize for everything. They will almost apologize for breathing. They are always saying sorry. They will apologize for small things, for big things, and for things that are not even remotely their fault.

Someone bumps into them on the street, and they apologize; they sneeze, and they apologize; they don’t have a pen when you request for one, and they apologize…

They genuinely feel that everything that goes wrong is their fault. This is because they have a biased view of themselves. They are entirely unaware of their worth; as such, they only see their shortcomings and not their gifts and talents.

Low self-esteem also makes people believe that it is their responsibility to keep everyone else happy, hence the reason they keep apologizing. Apologizing continually is a way for young people with esteem issues to buy acceptance from the people around them. They fear that if they fail to apologize, other people will think negatively of them.

‘It’s not a big deal.’ ‘I was just lucky.’  ‘It’s God’s blessing.’ ‘I don’t know how it happened.’

Every child at least some point will work their tails off to achieve something:

And yet,

They will not take credit for it, accept praise or compliments. This is a clear sign of low self-esteem. The child has such low self-esteem that the idea that they have achieved something positive, or that they have portrayed a unique skill is unfathomable. It simply doesn’t gel with their negative self-image.

Young people that are grappling with low self-esteem don’t handle compliments well. They will say that they were just lucky or that they were only in the right place at the right time. Indeed, they will believe it. They have, unfortunately, blown their failures out of proportion so much so that it is deeply ingrained in their identity.

Now,

How do the students in your class react to your compliments? Are they proud, pleased and accepting of your praise or do they look uncomfortable and try to dismiss what you say? Do they deflect praise? Do they believe that they deserve to be acknowledged for their achievements?

A well balanced young adult might show modesty when they receive compliments, but if you realize that they genuinely distrust every compliment they are given, a deeper problem is at play.

‘It just happened.’ ‘I just ……’ ‘I only …’

Are there any young people in your classes that are defensive to a fault, believing everyone is out to get them? The moment they hear a ‘no,’ or a ‘but,’ they clam up. A young adult with low self-esteem finds it very hard to hear anything that they perceive as criticism because it reinforces their low opinions of themselves. They are touchy and take even light-hearted conversations to heart. They will strive to defend themselves even when the situation does not call for it.

Low self-esteem makes people hyper-vigilant that they will interpret any phrase, even a compliment, as a reproach. They will immediately begin to make excuses or explain themselves. Unfortunately, they will never grow if they do not learn how to accept constructive criticism.

If you notice that the young adult’s defensiveness is unhealthy, you need to have a discussion with them about criticism. Let them also have the right perspective: that some criticism is well intended to help them improve, while other types of criticism simply reflect poorly on the critic and they are best ignored.

‘Probably.’  ‘Most likely.’ ‘I may be right, but I am not sure.’  ‘I don’t know what to choose ….’ ‘Maybe …’

A child with low self-esteem finds it very difficult to make decisions. For them, it is more convenient to follow other people’s leadership. They find it challenging to speak for themselves or give their opinions. They also continuously question themselves.

Indeed, they would rather not have to make any decision about anything; at all. If they have to make a decision, they stress about it tirelessly, questioning and doubting themselves all the way. They also have a great fear of being wrong; so they instead use uncertain terms to ‘protect’ themselves.

‘I thought differently, but I agree ……’  ‘Everyone thinks so…’ All these phrases indicate someone who fears to express their personal opinion. They would rather agree with the views of a less incompetent person than risk expressing theirs.

Also,

They never argue!

Unfortunately, these young adults will never have an identity since only informed personal opinions make one a personality.

 

We cannot downplay the importance of high self-esteem for young people: having a good sense of self-esteem helps them to try new things, solve problems, take healthy risks and form meaningful relationships.

Our role in all of this

We cannot overemphasize the role of teachers in the formation of healthy self-esteem. Right from when the children are small, making them feel safe, valued and accepted makes them believe in themselves.

As they grow older, as teachers (and parents) keep encouraging them to try new things and utilize their skills, their self-esteem soars. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, self-esteem may come more easily to some children than others. The good news is that even if a particular young person’s self-esteem is low, it can be remedied: with your help.

The problem-solving process starts with identifying the cause of low self-esteem. Once you have determined the cause, rectifying the situation is the easier (and even fun) part.

 

Read More from Chris: How to Build Self-Esteem in Children

 

Christopher teaches woodwork at the high school level and also runs the website TeachingWoodwork.com. He is passionate about helping the people (parents and teachers) around young people. You can see his latest projects and how he builds self-esteem in young people on his website.

 

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4 Important Ways to Help a Grieving Student

4 Important Ways to Help a Grieving Student

A guest post by Meghan Belnap

 

As a teacher, watching over the mental and emotional health of your students can be difficult. Students who face tragedy are often in need of comfort and extra support, but it can often feel as if your options are limited in regards to how to help. 20 percent of all kids will grow up experiencing the death of someone close to them by adulthood. Even though helping a student through grief is the primary responsibility of parents, rather than teachers, students will look to their teachers as authority figures for guidance and sympathy. Here are just four big ways that you, as a teacher, can help your students through a painful loss. 

Making sure basic needs are met

When children, teens, and young adults experience grief, they can often become withdrawn and lethargic, lacking the energy or even motivation to meet many of their basic needs. Eating, especially, can be hard for them to make a priority, as anxiety caused by grief can constrict the stomach and make food unappealing. One way you can check up on these students is to talk to the cafeteria staff to see if the student is getting lunch. Consider keeping some light, easily digestible snacks in your desk to offer them before or after class if you find they are neglecting to eat at lunchtime, and be aware of any extreme weight loss that may necessitate action from the parents. 

Consult with Parents and Guardians

Being able to openly discuss their feelings is a major part of the grieving process, but children and teens can feel worried about bringing up depressing or uncomfortable topics. Make sure that the student knows your office hours when they can come and talk to you if they need a compassionate ear, and make sure they are aware of the services offered by your school counselor. If you notice them feeling overwhelmed during class, discretely allow them to step outside or to the school counselor immediately. It can also be greatly beneficial to consult with the parents to get their perspective on how their child is handling the loss and what can be done to help them. Whether it is the passing of another student or a family member, each child deals with death a little differently and may need unique accommodations. 

Giving parents counseling information

When a student is grieving the death of a loved one, their parents are often going through a similar process and may not be aware of the resources they have for their child’s grieving. Giving parents phone numbers, addresses, and pamphlets for local psychiatrists and counselors can help ease the burden on the family and provide the student with professional guidance. Grief counseling for young adults has become more widely available as rates of suicide in teens has increased. Services like these can help a grieving student find comfort, educate parents on healthy coping mechanisms and emotional outlets, and even detect signs of depression and anxiety that the student may be repressing. 

Homework extensions and test makeups

Another way teachers can help grieving students is to provide alternative assignments. While their formal education is important, it can often take a back seat when the student is overwhelmed from the grieving process, and the last thing they need is for that grief to create further stressors through falling grades. Extended deadlines, make-up days, and a pass on quizzes can help a teen keep up with the workload and maintain decent grades. A little leniency, particularly early in the grieving process, will relieve stress from the student and make them aware that the authority figures in their lives make their mental and emotional wellbeing a priority.

As a teacher, there are limited options for how you can get involved in the personal lives of your students. This does not mean that there is nothing to be done, however. The simple act of directing a student to professional aid and showing a little extra compassion can go a long way in ensuring that the student is able to make their way through the grieving process in a healthy manner. Whether they want to admit it or not, students of all ages are greatly affected by their teachers, and they will appreciate even the little gestures of compassion you show.

It’s a Miracle All Kids Don’t Hate School

The other morning one of my students picked up a banana from the bowl of fruit set out for breakfast. From across the room, I heard her say, “I hate school,” which was an odd thing to say for someone about to eat a banana. I cringed. I want students to enjoy being in my room and to have a positive school experience. When students don’t like school, I take it personally.

But the more I thought about it, the more I questioned how much ownership I should take. I didn’t love school, and I chose to work in one. My daughter, who does very well in school, balks at getting up in the morning. If you ask her if she likes school, she’ll shrug. Lots of kids will tell you they don’t like school, even those who seem to like it just fine once they’re there.

Teachers, of course, are supposed to feel bad when students hate school. We’re often blamed for failing to engage them. We’re told we need to make learning more meaningful and fun. If kids don’t like school, it’s probably because we’re not allowing our students to move enough or collaborate enough or create enough or choose enough. We teachers talk too much. We’re boring.

Certainly, there are times when those are valid criticisms. Teachers can help make school more appealing to their students. But they’re fighting a steep uphill battle. Because the truth is that students have two very good reasons to not like school.

They’re Required to Be There

I’m not one of those people who thinks we should abolish compulsory education. On the whole, it does far more good than bad. But let’s be clear: Requiring something never makes that thing enjoyable. I struggle to think of a single thing I am forced to do that I enjoy. As a child, I hated taking baths, going to bed, attending church, and eating many of my mother’s dinners (they were fine, I was just a picky little shit). As an adult, some of the best parts of my life are bathing, sleeping, and eating my mother’s food. The difference was that when I was a child, I was forced to bathe when I didn’t want to, go to bed earlier than I wanted to, and eat things I didn’t want to eat. As an adult, I get to choose. It’s the best thing about being an adult.

In high school, I read a fair amount, mostly Stephen King. Once I got to college I stopped reading. The reason was simple: I was required to. There are books I was assigned in college that I didn’t read but later enjoyed when I made the choice to read them on my own. The difference wasn’t the book; it was the freedom to choose.

As a teacher, I have read a number of professional books, but if my school decides to do a book study and I’m required to read even a single chapter, I’ll put it off as long as possible and then resent it when I do read it.

My former district hosted an ice cream social on the last day of school every year to honor retirees. Almost everybody complained about it. It’s not that we didn’t like ice cream or retirees. It’s that the district required our attendance when we had other things we wanted to do.

There’s a really simple way to make an enjoyable activity unenjoyable and something people resent doing. Force them to do it. Take away their freedom to choose. Want to make them really dislike it? Make them do it for seven hours a day for 180 days, year after year. I love Disney World.  But I’d like it a whole lot less if you made me go there five days a week between September and June, year after year.

Almost Everything is Contrived

Almost everything done inside a school is contrived. Very little of it reflects the real world. Think of the reading you do and compare it to the reading we ask students to do. I read primarily for two reasons: to learn things I’m interested in and for entertainment. Now consider the reasons your students read:

Because you told them to.

To answer questions.

Because they have a reading response entry due.

To prepare for a discussion.

To get better at reading.

The standards practically require inauthentic tasks. We’re all going to learn how to reduce fractions today. Why? Hell if I know, but it’s in the standards and you might need it someday (or worse, you need it to pass the contrived test the state devised to see if your teachers are doing a good enough job teaching you contrived things).

Yes, there are moments where students can do authentic tasks, but they are few and far between. You find an article in your local paper and students write letters to the editor. People in the real world actually do that (of course, most of us who read such letters think the writers are quacks with nothing better to do, but still). You have an actual problem in your classroom with storage, so you have students design a cabinet. A group of students saw something on the news and you decide to guide them in some research and have a class discussion about it.

There are opportunities to connect to the real world, but they also require you to be constantly aware of those opportunities and be willing to scrap your carefully prepared plans and possibly ignore the standards everyone expects you to teach. They also mean deviating from whatever cruddy program your district is forcing you to use, so you better keep such lessons on the DL.

Teachers can mitigate this natural resentment of contrived and mandatory things. They can try to bring authentic tasks into the classroom. They can inject fun into their day. They can provide students’ choice to give the illusion of genuine freedom. They can build relationships so that students want to be there to be around people they like. But they can never change the two fundamental truths about school to which students are justified in rebelling against.

The next time you hear a student say she hates school, don’t feel so bad about it. Don’t feel guilty, like you’re somehow personally failing her. Be thankful that all students don’t feel the same way. Because to hate contrived things that you’re forced to do is a natural human reaction. It is, frankly, exactly how we should want freedom-loving people to respond.

 

*If you’re curious, the banana-eating student’s declaration of hatred was in response to a well-meaning food service worker writing the phrase, “I love school,” in marker on the banana’s peel.

The Best Parent-Teacher Conference Advice

I don’t remember much from the year I spent as a student teacher. It was in a fifth-grade classroom. The kids were mostly well behaved. When I took over lead teaching, I had the idea that I would run a classroom where students didn’t need to raise their hands. My mentor teacher looked at me askance, but to her credit allowed me to fail on my own. Most of the time, I was trying to keep my head above water. I learned most by failing, but there were a few things my mentor teacher did that I took with me to my first job. Some of the most enduring lessons were on how to conduct parent-teacher conferences. After 18 years in the classroom and an estimated 450 conferences, here are my five best pieces of advice:

Let the Parent Go First

Here’s how my mentor teacher put it before the very first parent walked in on our first night of conferences: “Always start by asking the parent if they have anything they’d like to talk about.” Most parents will come in and be content to hear what you have to say. But there will usually be a couple who have a burning issue they’ve been waiting to address with you. If you start in with your prepared remarks, or student artifacts, or the progress report, these parents will not be listening. They’ll be thinking about what they want to say, just like you do when you’re pissed off in a staff meeting and can’t wait to vent while your principal blathers on about something you care not a whit about.

If a parent walks in with student work in her hand, you can bet that’s what she wants to talk about. Start your conference with these words: “Hi, thanks for coming! Now, before I get into what I’m going to say, is there anything you’d like to discuss?” Then shut up and listen.

Show That You Understand Their Kid

You spend seven hours every day with your students. Their parents spend less. More than wanting to know how their child is doing in school (they usually know) and whether or not they behave during class (they have a pretty good idea about that, too), parents want to know if you get their kid. They want to know if you respect their child enough to get to know them and accept them for their differences. They want to know if you see the children in front of you as individuals.

Say at least one non-judgmental thing that shows you understand each child.  Even if your observation is a less-than-desirable characteristic, the fact that you’ve noticed their kid is important to parents.

Be Honest 

A former colleague interviewed for a teaching job with another district but didn’t get it, even though she thought it went well. During the call where she learned she wasn’t getting the job, she asked what she could have done differently. She was told she was a “model candidate” and received no constructive feedback. She asked what she could do to improve and was basically told nothing.

People crave feedback. We don’t mind being told hard truths if it will help us get what we want. Parents want their children to succeed, and to do so they need to know what their children can do to make that happen. Telling parents that their child “lacks motivation” when in reality they don’t do any work in the room at all is a disservice. Reporting that a child creates a lot of “interpersonal conflict” is hiding behind jargon. Just say they don’t play well with others and that in most of the cases, you’ve observed their child to be the instigator.

Don’t be a jerk, but do be honest.

If Jimmy doesn’t focus on his work and gets little done in class, say so. If Susan acts without thinking and her impulsivity regularly interferes with others’ learning, let the parents know. If Quentin is reading behind grade level and you’ve witnessed him on many occasions doing everything he can to avoid reading, explain to his mom and dad that he’s not going to improve unless he actually reads.

Parents can’t help their kids get better if they don’t know what to work on and you’re in the best position to know what they need to work on, so tell them.

Describe, Don’t Diagnose

Teachers aren’t doctors and shouldn’t pretend they are. We don’t know the causes of what we’re seeing and even if we’ve seen it ten times before, we should stay in our lane. If pushed by parents — I sometimes have parents who come right out and ask if I think their child has ADHD–stick to what you have observed.

“He has a very hard time focusing. He rarely finishes assignments. Yesterday, he completed the first three problems in three minutes, but then completed only one more over the next fifteen minutes.”

“He doesn’t get work done and he bothers others during work time.”

“Whenever he doesn’t get his way, he throws a fit. Other students have noticed and they avoid him.”

Telling parents what you’ve seen puts you in the position of simply being a reporter. If pressed, stick to that role. You can even add, “I’m just telling you that this is what I’ve witnessed in the classroom.”

Let There Be No Surprises

A good way to have a disastrous conference night is to never tell parents anything until they’re sitting right in front of you and then unload all the bad news at once. They feel ambushed, and you come across as unprofessional. You have all the knowledge, you’ve kept it to yourself, and then you’ve sprung it on an unsuspecting victim in a public place where they can’t just get up and storm out without looking like horrible parents. Save yourself a lot of trouble by letting the parents know, at the earliest date, about any problems their child is having at school. If a parent is surprised at any point during the conference, then you haven’t been communicating enough. If you’ve dropped the ball in this regard (and I have), admit it.

Say: “I’m sorry. I should have called,” or  “I should have sent home more student work.” Ask them how frequently they would like to be updated going forward. Then promise to do better.

A good conference is about the teacher first listening to any concerns the parents may have and then communicating the information parents need to know so they can help their children succeed. Do the above, and your conferences will be productive.

 

6 Ways Principals Can Show Teachers They Care

care

In March of 2017, Education Post published an article by teacher Tom Rademacher titled, “Hey, Principals, When You Lose Good Teachers, That’s On You.” The whole thing is worth a read, but this paragraph sums it up well:

“Principals (and just like I use “teachers’ to mean everyone who works with kids, I’ll use “principals’ here to mean everyone who is supposed to be supporting teachers), the number of teachers you keep year to year says something about you. I know you’d like not to believe that, I know your job is easier if you ignore it, but teachers matter, and keeping them around is your job. When you lose good teachers, it’s on you.”

Well, it’s that time of year again. Teachers are right now deciding whether to polish up their résumés in search of greener pastures or to return to their buildings and, maybe more accurately, their bosses. Because for many of them, it’s not the pay, the kids, the parents, the curricular materials, their colleagues, the amount of technology, or the physical condition of the schools in which they work that will drive this decision. It’s their principal.

There are a number of reasons why principals should want to keep their teachers (or at least, the vast majority of them):

  • Teachers who leave take with them all their expertise and the training their districts have paid for and provided.
  • The search for replacements is time-consuming.
  • New teachers need to be trained.
  • There’s no guarantee (especially in these days of teacher shortages and lower enrollment in teacher education programs) that you will find anyone better.
  • Frequent turnover is unattractive and can harm the reputation of a school.
  • A lack of stability is a continuation of the fragmented lives our neediest students already experience outside of school.
  • New relationships must be built.
  • Staff morale may suffer as teachers lose valued colleagues and friends.

Nothing good comes from losing good teachers.

So it’s odd when some principals act as though they could not care less if their teachers return. Some don’t even take the simple step of saying, “Hey, I really hope you’ll come back next year. We need you. You’re important.”

Perhaps that’s because, as Rademacher suggests, they don’t believe teacher attrition is their fault. When you’re the boss, it’s easier to blame other factors than it is to accept that most people quit because of you.

But if we’re going to give principals the benefit of the doubt — and I’m inclined to, if for no other reason than they have a REALLY difficult job — maybe it’s because they just don’t know how to show teachers they care.

So here are six easy ways principals can show their teachers that they care about them.

1. Focus on Their Happiness

Most people believe that to be happy you must first find success. They have it backward. Research from the field of positive psychology clearly shows that happiness comes first. Success doesn’t lead to happiness (just ask Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Heath Ledger, Robin Williams, or any number of other successful people whom you can’t actually ask). Happiness makes success more likely.

Richard Branson, who knows a few things about running successful organizations, puts it this way:

If you focus on your teachers’ happiness, you’ll not only get happier teachers who will treat students the way you want them treated and will come back year after year, but you’ll also get more effective teaching. Don’t give your teachers more PD, or hand them another program, or offer instructional advice. None of that will help if they’re miserable. Focus instead on creating an environment where your teachers are happy.

2. Show Appreciation

79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving. According to a recent survey, 82 percent of employed Americans don’t feel that their supervisors recognize them enough for their contributions. 65% of North Americans report that they weren’t recognized even once last year.

Appreciation is the number one thing employees say their boss could do that would inspire them to produce great work. O.C Tanner, a recognition and rewards company, surveyed 2,363 office workers and found that 89% of those who felt appreciated by their supervisors were satisfied with their jobs.

Principals who show gratitude experience a win-win because their teachers will feel more appreciated and the principals themselves will be happier at work.  Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania and the “father of positive psychology,” tested the impact of different interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked, participants immediately reported a huge increase in happiness. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Principals who want to make everyone in their schools happier should take the simple step of showing appreciation for others’ efforts. Take 30 seconds to write a thank-you card.  One survey found that 76 percent of people save them.

3. Tell Them To Have a Life

Most teachers are agreeable and conscientious. The job attracts these personality types. As a principal, you can use those traits for good or evil. If you ask teachers to stay after school to help out with family math night, or to attend the PTO meeting, or to chaperone a dance, most of them will because they won’t want to disappoint you and because they will worry about the success of the event if they don’t show up.

Asking too often is a good way to burn out your teachers, but you can also use teachers’ agreeableness for good. Tell them to go home. Direct them to not check their email over the weekend. Order them to not even think about school over Christmas break. Tell them to do things that will help them be happier, better rested, and ultimately more effective. Most teachers, if you tell them what to do, will do it. Telling them to take care of themselves and detach from work will be a refreshing message because teachers are rarely told to put themselves first, and it will show you care about their well-being.

4. Take Things Off Their Plates

School districts love to load teachers with an ever-growing heap of responsibilities without removing anything. Just last week, teachers in my school were told that next year we will be implementing a new social skills program. We are to teach these lessons once per week. But guess what we weren’t told? What not to teach.

Keep teaching everything you’ve always taught, just add this one more thing on top of it. Sound familiar?

I can count on a whole lot of hands how many teachers complain that their principals, mostly former teachers, have forgotten what the job is like. Ensconced in their offices with the freedom to choose what to work on and how much time to devote to it, they seem amnesic about how overwhelming and hectic teachers’ days are. A principal who explicitly takes things off teachers’ plates shows understanding and empathy. Give your teachers less to do. They’ll be grateful for it, and they’ll be more likely to do the most important things well.

5. Encourage Socializing

Some principals see off-task chatting as a problem, a deviation from their meeting agendas. But social connectedness is a major cause of happiness and good health. Don’t merely abide teachers’ socializing, encourage it. Instead of promptly starting your staff meeting at 7:30, require attendance at that time but don’t actually start on the agenda until 7:40. Send the message that you value your teachers enough to know that they need time to just talk to each other. Teachers spend most of their work hours isolated from other adults. They crave connectedness. Give it to them.

6. Spend Money on Their Well-Being

We spend money on things that are important to us. I buy expensive beer because I like to drink it. I don’t spend money on new clothes because I don’t care about clothes. A district that spends thousands on a reading program but provides their librarians (if they still have them) with a $100 annual budget for books sends a clear message about what matters.

Most principals have a discretionary budget. How they spend that money matters.

A cottage industry has grown up around teacher stress and burnout. You can now find many resources that aim to improve teachers’ well-being. I’ve written three books on the topic: Exhausted, Happy Teacher, and Leave School At School.

The master class for teacher well-being is Angela Watson’s 40-Hour Teacher Workweek Club. Teachers get weekly materials for an entire calendar year on topics such as Grading and Assessment, Sustainable Systems, Maximizing Your Summer, and Work/Life Balance. They get weekly emails, audio files, printables, planning forms, and an abundance of great advice on how to optimize their classroom practices so they can still have a life when they get home at night. If you want your teachers to know you care about them, consider signing a few up for the club.

Read reviews from club members here.

Instead of spending money on PD, which, according to research, doesn’t help your teachers, spend it on something that will show you care and will be of practical use to them. Order them some books on managing stress. Purchase a few subscriptions to the 40-Hour Workweek Club for those teachers who seem overwhelmed, or go all in and get a school license so all of your teachers can benefit.

Good principals take care of their teachers. They know that teachers impact student achievement more than any other in-school factor. Smart principals focus more on their teachers’ well-being than they do on student discipline, instructional practices, or meeting agendas. Take some simple steps to show your teachers that you care, and they will return year after year, contribute to a more positive environment, and be more effective in the classroom.

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Links to the 40-Hour Teacher Workweek Club are of the affiliate variety.