How to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week: A Daily Guide
Monday, May 2, 2022 marks the start of Teacher Appreciation Week. And while here at the American Montessori Society, we aim to show our gratitude for teachers every day, this week feels extra special.
As always, there will be discounts at popular retailers, local news stories highlighting outstanding educators, coupons for free coffees (you know we need it with that end of year rush!), special events by school communities, and more. And while there is lots of time for fun, Pinterest-inspired celebrations, we hope you will also take time for quiet personal reflection and deep self-care.
In honor of AMS Cares, the health and wellness initiative from your American Montessori Society, we invite you to take part in these daily offerings to make your Teacher Appreciation Week extraordinary.
For many people, meditation can feel like an intimidating task. The idea of putting aside our busy to-do lists to sit and “do nothing” might seem counterintuitive. But meditation isn’t “doing nothing.” According to the popular meditation app Headspace’s website, “[In meditation] you’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.”
The AMS Cares Library on AMS Connect offers a number of meditative practices by Debra Smith, director of admissions and enrollment management at Cambridge Montessori School. Pick one (or more) of the below videos to center yourself for the week ahead.
- Meditation: Compassion & Consciousness (10 minutes)
- Meditation: Sowing Seeds (10 minutes)
- Meditation: The Lake Meditation (11 minutes)
- Meditation: Finding Flow (11 minutes)
- Meditation: Cultivate Wellbeing through Awareness (13 minutes)
And remember, according to a Zen proverb, “If you don’t have time to meditate for an hour everyday, you should meditate for two hours.”
Take Time for You Tuesday
In our busy worlds, it seems like there is always something calling for our attention. Whether the needs of our colleagues, administrators, and students inside the school building or our own family and interpersonal relationships at home, it can sometimes feel like we are going a million different directions.
It can be hard, in the midst of a busy school week, to carve out intentional time for the things we love, rather than just mindlessly completing our list of “have to dos.” This week, we invite you to spend some time doing something that isn’t on your list, something that reminds you of childlike wonder, something that gives your mind a brief reprieve from the constant “go, go, go” of your normal routines.
Not sure where to begin?
- Spend time reading a new book. Check out this list of Black History Month Recommended Reads if you don’t currently have a stack of books on your nightstand! Or, for a quicker fix, revisit past Montessori Life magazine articles from the digital archives.
- Go to a local park by yourself or with loved ones. Consider practicing some of the meditation techniques you learned on Monday.
- Listen to a podcast. If you’re not sure where to begin, visit this blog post about Top 5 Powerful ABAR Podcasts for episode recommendations.
- Break open the art supplies and draw, paint, doodle, sketch, sculpt, splatter, and design away.
- Get outside! If you have access to a garden, consider spending time in the dirt. A little bit of nature goes a long way.
- Study something completely unrelated to your professional life. While we also invite you to spend time with the offerings of AMS Learning, we also recognize the reality of needing an occasional break from our “work lives.” Spend some time learning a new language, studying the political history of a country you know nothing about, or researching why the sky is blue. This brain break will serve as an active refresher for your mind.
- Whip up your favorite meal… the kind of meal that takes a little bit of extra time to make but is always worth the payoff. Bonus points if you also make dessert!
- Catch up on a beloved television series or watch that movie you’ve been meaning to see. Looking for other streaming suggestions? Check out these pre-recorded videos from AMS Cares (each runs between 40 – 90 minutes)
Write About it Wednesday
While the intention of this post is to recognize you and your peers and thank you for the work you are doing, we also recognize the importance of sharing that work with the wider community. As such, we hope you will consider telling us the great work that is happening in your schools and teacher education programs.
Our team at AMSHQ is hard at work on a new publication that will focus on the wellbeing of educators. We know that you are a Montessori innovator in wellness, mindfulness, and health and we want you to share with us how you incorporate mindfulness into your practice. (It could even include tips you’ve taken from this article!)
Through Friday, May 13, we invite you to submit your AMS Cares story for a chance to be featured in this upcoming publication.
Not sure where to begin? Not sure what makes you a Montessori innovator in wellness, mindfulness, and health? Well, the answer might be closer than you think. It's the administrator who finds a more effective way to engage in meditation and reflective practices with their students and families; the adult learner who learned a technique to avoid burnout in their studies; the guide who uncovers a breakthrough in communication and enforces positive psychology in the classroom.
Every day, Montessori Innovators surround us and mindful transformation is happening… and we want to recognize it.
Take a moment to fill out this Jotform to share what you have done for yourself, in the classroom, or within the community to spark positivity, support student wellbeing, improve your personal health, and maintain healthy relationships. We look forward to reading your submissions!
“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.”
– Shannon Adler
As educators, we spend much of our time looking out for the needs of our students. We aim to build a prepared environment where they can grow, learn, and explore to reach their fullest potential. It can be difficult, sometimes, to apply that same level of care to ourselves, or even to our colleagues around us. On Thursday, we invite you to share gratitude with your colleagues and peers.
Here are a few suggestions for letting your appreciation be known:
- Call, text, or email a mentor or former professor to tell them what you are doing now. Talk about your current classroom or role and explain, in detail, how their influence has helped you to where you are today. If you’d like, you can even send a handwritten card in the postal mail.
- Does your co-teacher always come to work with a large matcha latte? Save them a stop in their morning commute by offering to pick up breakfast for two. Having a bit of time before the day starts to catch up on non-work related topics over coffee and donuts can start your whole day on the right foot.
- Get your students involved! Crafting with a purpose is a fun way to include your entire classroom. Ask them to write, draw, or otherwise create a card, song, or performance of appreciation for another teacher or administrator in the building. Your students will love the opportunity to participate and the receiving teachers will feel touched by the gesture.
- Want more ideas and templates? Check out this resource guide from PTO Today.
Movement is an integral part of how I support my own mental health and wellbeing. Each morning, I go for a walk with my neighbor Maxine. Starting the day with fresh air and a good friend are as vital to my morning as that mug of coffee! Movement is medicine and I am a strong proponent of everyone taking time to move their body throughout the day in a way that feels good to them.
It doesn’t always have to be a long hike on a weekend morning. Even sitting at your desk and taking an intentional moment to roll your ankles, neck, shoulders—or even your eyes!—can go a long way toward feeling your best.
Check out these other movement-based activities from AMS Cares:
- Morning Wake-Up: The 6 Major Spinal Movements (3 minutes)
- Dance: Celebrate by Pitbull (3 minutes)
- Dance: Bring the Beat by Machel Montano (3 minutes)
We Appreciate You
On behalf of everyone at the American Montessori Society, thank you for all you do to help move Montessori forward. Your work makes a difference for the students in your classroom, the families they go home to each day, and the wider community you serve. I am filled with deep gratitude this Teacher Appreciation Week… and all year long.
About the Author
Munir Shivji, MEd, is the executive director at the American Montessori Society. Previously, he was the founding head of two Montessori schools in Texas and founding director of Cambridge Montessori Institute. He is also a former director at the Cambridge Montessori School and former Montessori Early Childhood teacher. Previously, Munir served on the AMS Board of Directors for 7 years. AMS credentialed (Early Childhood, Administrator).