5 Words of Encouragement for Teachers

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Teaching is hard! Whether you are a first year teacher or a veteran teacher this profession has lots of challenges. But it has lots of rewards too. If you are a teacher feeling discouraged or a friend of a teacher keep reading because this post is for you. While I might not be able to change your current circumstances I hope this encouragement for teachers helps a little bit.

Five words of encouragement for teachers.

So I’ve been thinking about this post for a while.  It all started a few weeks ago on Facebook.  I am part of a few different groups for teachers and since school has started I’ve noticed a lot of posts that look and sound like these:

frustrated and stressed teacher

“Anyone else feeling overwhelmed?”

“I’ve never felt like a failure as much as I do this year.”

“This is my most difficult year with students.”

“Not sure I can make it through the year.”

These posts just break my heart and not because it is only September.  These posts break my heart because it’s almost like moments, days, weeks, or years like this extinguish a little bit of that teacher passion. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another.  So if this is you right now, I hope the rest of this post really encourages you.

5 Words of Encouragement for Teachers

1.  It Takes a Special Person to be a Teacher

Not everyone can do what you do. You have special skills and talents.

No, really it does!  Even on your worst days think about what you do.  In just the first 5-10 minutes you take 20 (sometimes many more) children that aren’t yours and you get them to assemble in a somewhat orderly manner.  Just that in itself is a feat.  

Don’t believe me – think about your significant other, neighbor, or friend who is not a teacher trying to do that.  Many people I know would bail during that first 5-10 minutes.   Still don’t believe me – just ask one of those people if they would trade you jobs for just one day.   Most people wouldn’t even have to think about your offer.  You are likely to hear a quick “NO!”  Not everyone can do what you do.  You are special and talented.

2.  What You Are Doing Makes a Difference!

I know that it doesn’t always feel like you are making a difference.  I know that in the day-to-day grind of teaching parts of speech or filling out the never-ending stack of paperwork, making a difference is the last thing you feel like you are doing.  But you are!  You are building our future one child, one day at a time.  

You spend more waking moments with the kids in your class than they do with their own parents.  Yes, you teach them academics, but you teach them so much more too.  You teach them how to be kind, caring human beings.  You help develop their character and mold them into the people they will become.  Have no doubt – you play a major role in creating our future.  And if that doesn’t make a difference I don’t know what does.

3.  Not Everything Fits Neatly into a Teaching Standard!

It’s OK!  I’ve felt the frustration of ever-increasing state demands and the stress of “the test” that leads to sleepless nights.  I know all too well the time constraints that are felt when there is so much to do and not enough time.  But sometimes, it’s necessary to teach something that is not on the lesson plans.  

As a kindergarten teacher, much of what I taught at the beginning of the year did not fit neatly into the teaching standards.  But you know what, it still needed to be taught.  The legislators who drafted the standards just don’t get it sometimes.  Someone has to teach 5 year olds how to walk in a line and why it is important and even necessary.  Someone has to teach the kindergarteners how to sit on the carpet, listen, wait their turn, hold their pencils, use scissors safely, and how to work with others.  Those things don’t always fit neatly into a teaching standard but are very necessary.  If you teach 1st – 12th grades I’m sure you will agree that these are skills you like your students to have, yet someone had to teach them.

Then there are those days when a student is upset, scared, nervous, or anxious.  Teaching a student how to express their feelings, process their feelings, and take appropriate action on their feelings just isn’t found in the teaching standards – but yet again, it is necessary.  

Give yourself permission to take advantage of those teachable moments even if they don’t fit into a teaching standard.  Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get to everything that was on the lesson plans.  More often than not, those “off the lesson plan lessons” are the most important ones.

4.  It’s Okay to Take Time for Yourself

No – actually it’s not just okay – it’s necessary!  For many years I felt guilty when I took even the smallest amount of time for myself.  Most teachers I know are constantly putting others first.  Your students, your family, other teachers – First!  No that is not a bad thing but neither is taking some time for yourself.  

Take time for yourself to step away from the stress of the job.

A few years ago I got a gift certificate for a massage and realized after my one hour of “me” time that I felt amazingly different.  It had less to do with the massage (although that was amazing) and a lot more to do with an hour that I gave myself to just rest and rejuvenate.  After that, I made some financial sacrifices and started treating myself to a massage each month.  It was amazing what a little hour did for my mood, motivation, and ability to help others.

About 18 months ago, I took a leap into taking even more time for myself.  I began a journey toward a healthier lifestyle.  It absolutely took time for me to commit to making healthy meals and working out, but each and every minute I spent doing that had a great effect.  I lost weight and found lots of energy, energy that I now use as a better mom and teacher.  

You see, I learned that not only is taking time for myself okay, it actually makes me a better person.  I only wish I would have learned this years ago!  Does taking time for yourself have to be expensive – absolutely not.  Find a good book and a quiet spot.  Go for a long walk.  Spend some time on a hobby or activity you enjoy.  Make healthy meals.  Exercise.  Sing.  Dance.  Just do something for you!

5.  The Beginning of the School Year Won’t Last Forever!  Take Time to Find Your Groove!

Yes, it is definitely a tough time of the year especially if you are a new teacher, teaching a new grade level, or at a new school.  You’ve got new students, new expectations from your administrators, and new plans for yourself.  It’s a time that is crazy busy with preparation, and probably not enough sleep (see #4 above).  And no – this time does not magically end after the first day of school.  Depending on the age of your students, this period of time can last anywhere from a few days to weeks.

I distinctly remember my first year of teaching.  I taught middle school dyslexia reading classes.  We took a couple of days at the beginning of the year to get to know each other and the procedures for our class – then we got to work.  

Fast forward to my first year teaching third grade.  By the end of the first week, I was so frustrated with myself.  I followed the same procedures, and after a couple of days jumped into teaching and didn’t understand why my classroom procedures weren’t working.  I felt rushed and unorganized and so did my students.  But I just knew that I should be teaching so I rushed through everything else.   Big mistake!  The best thing I did was give myself permission to go back, take time to really teach the procedures of our classroom, and not jump right into the hard-core academics.  It made all the difference!

Fast forward a few more years to my first year teaching kindergarten.  I knew that it was going to take a few weeks to get into the groove because I had learned that with third grade.  In fact, I usually found that we hit our groove in third grade about week 4.  Now picture me at week 4 highly frustrated, feeling like a complete failure and totally doubting my ability to teach kindergarten.  We finished week 4 and we were nowhere near hitting our groove. I didn’t take into account the fact that 5 year olds, many of whom had never been in a school setting before, would need longer than 8 year olds, who needed longer than 12 year olds.  I found myself yet again, taking a step back.

You may find that you can hit your groove faster than me and that is great.  But the important thing to remember is to take the time you need in the beginning to build the relationships, put the procedures into place, and create a comfortable, safe learning environment.  When you do these things, you too will hit your groove and you’ll find that the rest of the year will be smoother because of it.  Now my beginning of the year mantra is “BABYSTEPS!”  That’s my reminder that I need to slow down.  A mentor teacher once told me “it pays to go slow at the beginning so you can go fast later.”  Those words are so very true and ones that I remind myself of every year.

Are you teacher that is feeling stressed, tiredo r frustrated with the job? If so, these words of encouragement for teacher is written for you.

If you haven’t hit your groove yet, just know you are not alone.  Allow yourself and your students the time you need to find your groove.  It might take longer than previous years and that is okay because you have a new class, new personalities, and new needs.  Don’t rush it.  Nurture the process and it will pay off in the long run.  

If you feel like you rushed it and that is why you’re feeling a little out of control, it’s not too late to take a couple of steps back.  The best is yet to come!

Do you have an encouraging word for a struggling teacher?  How about an idea to help kick off the year to a great start?  Share it in the comments.  We can all use the encouragement at some time.


  1. Patty Rutenbar says

    This was a wonderful reminder that many of us are trying to do it all and have a perfect classroom instantly. We can't! It's a process…. It takes time. I passed this along to my staff it's so worth reading!

  2. Sherry says

    THANK YOU! I’m super stressed about starting this year with the COVID mess.

    I am a new subscriber and your page is a lifesaver. Thanks again!

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