As teachers, we widely feel unsupported. Why are we doing this? Why do we put ourselves through this? We feel that teaching is a very thankless career. We work long hours and tirelessly serve our students, but who in the world appreciates it? I’d be lying if I said every person does appreciate it. Many people have no idea what we face, because they don’t live it. That’s why it’s so important to find our cheerleaders.
To listen on the podcast, here’s this episode:
You know, it’s not just our profession. My sister is a nurse in a nursing home, and I often highly underestimate the work she does there. Oftentimes, I’ll ask her how work is going. Most of the time she’ll just say it’s going good, but sometimes she’ll open up about the things she does to serve that elderly community. Especially right now, her job is extremely difficult.
When she really opens up, I realize how unappreciated her line of work is as well. She is doing things on a day-to-day that I could never do. People who work in nursing homes have a special heart.
Likewise, as teachers, our job is also difficult in different ways, and you have to have a special heart to remain in this profession as well. Just as I really appreciate my sister for what she does, there are people who will cheer us on when we open up.
We all need to feel appreciated. If you feel unsupported, maybe it’s because you haven’t done your part to find your teacher cheerleaders. That’s what we’re going to talk about.
What are Teacher Cheerleaders?
When I was a young girl, I played volleyball, and there was no cheerleading team there. Of course, your family could come and cheer you on. When my mama could come, I could look over in the crowd and see her face cheering me on. It gave me a burst of extra energy and passion that helped me stay on top of my game. I wanted to make my mama proud.
Just like that gave me energy to perform at my best to keep on playing, teacher cheerleaders can do the same for you. Teacher cheerleaders are the people who feed your passion, make you feel appreciated, confident, and know your work is worth it.
Even though we can’t have a personal cheerleader with us all the time, we need those special moments of people cheering us on and encouraging us to help us sustain our work as teachers. If you feel unsupported, maybe you need to invest in finding teacher cheerleaders.
In true Teacher Toni fashion, I’ve got some tips to help you do that. 😉 I’ve got three ways for you to help find your teacher cheerleaders.
Tip #1: Utilize Mentors and Role Models as Cheerleaders
Your mentors and role models make the best cheer leaders. Take advantage of the people who are willing to share their experience and expertise with you. They can be some of the most beneficial cheerleaders you’ll ever find.
Think about the people you see as mentors and role models who have helped train you. The people who love to reach down and help provide support wherever possible should be your role models.
If you don’t have anyone in your close relationships that you consider a role model, you’ve got to find some. They are irreplaceable for me. They’re my biggest cheerleaders. They’re really looking out for my well-being.
It’s part of their personality. They love to advise and support people. When you appreciate their gifts and use their advice, this builds a strong, reciprocating relationship. They want to see you succeed because you believe and affirm their advice.
I discovered one of my greatest mentors during my student teaching. I had to go to a guided reading training. The next year, when I found my first position, I gave the trainer a call and asked her advice for instruction in my kindergarten class.
This woman, Ms. Janet Grigsby, who helped me do an episode about morning message (you can read that post HERE) would be a lifetime mentor and role model for me. Everything she says is golden, and I always make sure I let her know I appreciate her expertise and willingness to help me. Her encouragement always means so much to me and keeps me going.
Look at coaches, instructional supervisors, even a really talented classroom teachers who just loves to share their expertise. Build relationships with those people based on your appreciation of their gifts, and they will cheer you on.
Tip #2: Seek Encouraging Friendships and Connections as Cheerleaders
In Episode 27, I talked about bad habits to bust (you can read that post HERE). One of those bad habits was negative talk with other teachers. If you’re guilty of that, don’t feel bad. We all are sometimes, but it’s a horrible habit that only gives us bad results.
We have to find positive people to surround ourselves with. We have to cut out the negative talk and influence. Those negative relationships are only going to bring us down. If you have friends like that, you have to find encouraging friendships who are positive, uplifting, upbeat, who love their work and reflect the kind of passion you have.
When you spend time with someone, are you looking at the kind of person you want to be? If not, you have to find someone like that. Sometimes this means you have to look outside of your school. Some of my best teacher friends are people I’ve never actually worked with. They’re just people I’ve found and connected with who cheer for me.
We’re blessed with technology that lets us reach out to people we meet through places like podcasts, blogs, and Facebook communities. Those encouraging connections can help us find people who will cheer us through, who reflect our goals to be impactful. When you find those people, cheer them on, and that will help them cheer you on.
Tip #3: Build Parental and Community Relationships as Cheerleaders
We’ve probably all struggled at some point with difficulties from some parents. I want you to look past that, because I’m here to tell you that the parents and community that surround your students can be some of your greatest teacher cheerleaders.
At times in the past when I felt like quitting my work, the parental relationships I’ve built have kept me afloat. The encouraging family and community support has given me what I needed to keep on going. I know you can find that, too.
We have to build those relationships. Just like in a marriage, if you don’t make time to encourage and uplift your partner, you won’t find good results. My number one piece of advice is to always use kind and respectful language.
When you’re talking to parents, speak to them as partners, not as, hey, I’m this big professional teacher who knows all of these things about teaching that you don’t. Instead, express your love for their child, and you’ll find that they will cheer you on.
They’ll say to themselves, “She recognizes how special my baby is. She loves my child, so you know what? I love her.”
Yes, it does work that way! When our parents and families recognize just how much we care for our students, they will give us that care in return. They will tell your principal how wonderful you are. They will spread good rumors about you in the community. If you post on Facebook, they’ll come on and affirm how wonderful you are. It may sound far-fetched, but it’s happened to me.
This may make me sound really pitiful, but there’s no better feeling than posting on social media and having all these people I’ve worked with tell me how awesome I am. That sounds really horrible, but I eat that up. 😂
Bonus: Be Positive
Be a positive influence and light to others. Try to see the best in everyone. Find the good qualities over the bad, uplift others, and just be positive. No one is going to cheer for a complainer or someone who is always trying to bring others down. Sometimes we do that without even thinking about it.
I want to cheer for people who are kind and lift up others. So if you’re looking to get some cheerleaders on your side, be that positive person. Ditch the nagging and complaining, and lift others up instead.
Make an effort to be positive in your conversations. Talk good about people. Use positive language.
Sometimes I feel that if I complain to someone, they’re going to pity me, and then they’ll try to lift me up. What I’ve actually found is that the more positive I am to others, the more positively they react to me.
Another place to definitely avoid negativity and inject some positive talk is social media. When your social media feed really demonstrates your passion for teaching, all the people you have connections with there will respond in a positive way.
If I get on there and complain, I’m going to get negative talk back. But if I post a picture of my classroom and tell everyone how deeply appreciative I am to work with children, I’m going to find people in my community who will reaffirm that to me.
My challenge to you now, or whenever you find time, is to make a positive, teaching related social media post. I want you to take several minutes and write out something with positive language that demonstrates your passion for teaching.
My guess is that several people will respond. No one’s going to come on and say, “Ugh, teaching is so hard. Why do you like it?” Instead, they’re going to have positive responses that will uplift and encourage you. Notice who responds, because more than likely you can find mentors and role models, positive friendships and connections, or a parent cheerleader in there.
Take those connections, build on them, and you’ll have your very own team of teacher cheerleaders.
Just for some accountability, I want you to post the very same content over on our Primary Teacher Friends Facebook group. That is a community of hopeful cheerleaders for you, and you can bet I cannot wait to see what you have to share.
I really hope you get into action and find that encouragement you need, and I hope I am encouraging for you. I hope I remind you how wonderful, passionate, and needed you are. I know I need that, so others must need it too.
Really quickly, I want to throw out a little teaser for you. If you enjoyed today’s content and like the blog and podcast in general, I’m working on something big that is going to release as soon as possible. It is called the Joyful Teacher Academy. This is going to be an online professional development to help teachers like you and I to become more joyful in the classroom. When we are joyful, we can spread our biggest impact.
Happy, joyful teachers share their joy with students, and oh my word, that is what our world needs more of. If you would like to be one of the first to hear about its official release, let me know HERE.
I cannot wait to share with the world what I’ve been working on. Joy in the classroom is so incredibly important to me, and it can change the lives of children.
Now, because you’re a difference maker, you do that every day. So go find some cheerleaders who can help you keep being your most joyful you, and keep making a difference.