Love and appreciation are part of everything we value. While we tend to think of romantic love around Valentine’s Day, there’s also love of family and friends, self-love, and love of learning, nature, beauty and more.
One way to be truly effective in your work is by connecting to your deepest feelings of love for your craft and the students you serve. You can feel that love when tapping into your feelings of empathy, care and compassion. What we mean by love — how we show it, how we hope to receive it — can vary greatly from person to person. In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman, a counselor and author, describes five key ways people express and experience love.
- Words of affirmation (expressing appreciation through words).
- Quality time (being present and focused on another person).
- Receiving gifts (not necessarily large or expensive, but those that show thoughtfulness and effort).
- Acts of service (things you do that make another person feel appreciated, including supporting them at work).
- Physical touch (including fist bumps, hugs and other forms of physical affirmation).
Chapman’s premise is that knowing someone’s love language and responding in kind helps them feel appreciated. Observing how someone expresses love is one way to determine their primary love language.
Educators, like all employees, perform better when they feel valued and appreciated. Colleagues can support and inspire one another, creating a ripple effect that improves the overall environment. It’s not enough to show appreciation once a year during a review. To be transformative, it should be part of the daily work environment, infused into a cooperative culture. Not there yet? Remember that every step in a positive direction can snowball and help create an environment where students and staff feel respected and valued.