By Jeff Waller (@jeffmwaller)
COVID-19 has caused a great deal of heartache and chaos in 2020, making it sometimes difficult to find the ‘positives’ in everyday life. But if there was a silver lining to be found in education, it was the outpouring of respect, appreciation, and love shown to educators. Their importance and talents were never more apparent, especially to us parents attempting to support our children at home. We quickly learned how difficult it is to engage one student, much less a classroom of 30, and to do that every day with rigor and compassion.
Everywhere you went, educators were being celebrated. Church signs, yard signs, and billboards were thanking them. Social media was overwhelmed with gratitude for our educators and a celebration for all they do. If nothing else, COVID-19 smacked us over the head, got us to look around, and brought us to our senses about education and the heroes who make it happen.
Spring became Summer, and soon the start of Fall was upon us. Everyone got caught up in their own worlds. The new awareness many of us had, faded. The educators felt it. 7 Mindsets trained over 10,000 educators over the past month. Many educators are struggling. There is so much ambiguity, uncertainty, and fear. The worst, however, is that many educators are starting to not feeling appreciated.
Before the pandemic, research by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that two-thirds of educators do not feel their profession is valued by society . Additionally, a study from Penn State claims that teachers rated lowest in feeling that their opinions count at work among professional occupations. It is hard to fathom that the professionals responsible for empowering the next generation to make the world a better place do not feel appreciated or significant. This unfortunate situation must change!
7 Mindsets is dedicating October to recognize and celebrate our great educators. For an educator to be at their best, they must feel appreciated, and they must feel a strong sense of significance. As we face the great challenge of the current school year, our ability to support one another will allow us to survive and thrive through this pandemic with, for, and through each other.
Throughout October, 7 Mindsets will provide all educators with tools and resources designed to celebrate one another and compel the best in each other. To kick things off, we want to challenge schools around the country with three of the very best strategies. These strategies are as follows:
1 – Perform Showers of Praise – There is a technique called the Shower of Praise. A staff member is randomly selected to stand in front of the team, and their colleagues take turns celebrating what is great about them. You can spice it up by role-playing that the person is retiring today. Imagine they are leaving the profession for good. What would you want to thank them for before they left? This activity can be so potent in getting team members to see the better part of their colleagues. You can do this in a large group or within smaller teams.
2 – Build a Greatness Chain – This idea uses a simple notebook to celebrate our colleagues’ greatness. The person starting the “Greatness Chain” identifies a colleague and writes a journal entry that expresses appreciation for this team member’s contributions. They give the notebook to their colleague, who is then asked to follow suit and express gratitude for another colleague’s greatness. They then pose a challenge for them to do the same. The goal is to fill the notebook up with excellence. Once the notebook is full, it is labeled Volume 1 and put it on a shelf to be referenced and enjoyed in the future. Then start a new notebook to continue the greatness chain indefinitely.
3 – Perform Daily Random Acts of Nurture – We have all heard of random acts of kindness. Take this to the next level by asking everyone on the team to do one thing every day for a colleague. Challenge them not only to perform acts of kindness but also acts that inspire and challenge their colleagues to grow and expand personally and professionally. The goal for each team member is to help out a different person each day. By the end of the year, each person should have done something for every faculty and staff member. You can make a contest of it and also make it part of your culture.
Every day we hand over our most precious assets (our children) and ask nothing less of educators than to empower them to live a happy and successful life. We hope others will join us with this initiative. Let us use October to celebrate the greatness of our educators.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffMWaller
 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development “Teachers.”
 Greenberg et al., “Teacher Stress.”
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