Activities to Inspire and Motivate Teachers

I often receive excellent questions from readers and have decided to start posting some of them so we can all learn something! If you have a question, please don’t hesitate to email me!

I recently received this question from LaMonica, a school social worker in Chicago (one of my favorite vaca spots!):

inspire and motivate teachers 2

I am a school social worker in Chicago and love your blog 🙂  I am sometimes asked by my principal to give a short staff development activity to our teachers, and I would love some new ideas.  Generally when this happens I am not given a specific directive about a topic, but rather I am just asked to ‘do
something social/emotional’, often not something relating to students per say but rather about how to inspire and motivate teachers during the middle of the year when they are stressed to the max, etc.  Do you have any advice?

Here are a few ideas that came to my mind to help inspire and motivate some of Chicago’s amazing, but stressed out, teachers!
1. Sand Tray Activity: This might be fun if you already have sand tray materials. Get a couple sand trays (keep it simple with a tupaware box and minimal sand) and some miniatures. Ask the teachers to get in groups and, using the miniatures, create a picture in the sand of one side that pictures their best day and one side that pictures their worse day. Have them share with others when they are done and talk about those together. Sharing their bad day side will give them a sense of support and there will likely be a bit of humor. Sharing their good days will encourage them and remind them why they entered education in the first place. It will also allow you an opportunity to learn more about the needs of your teachers.
2. Stress Relief Education and Exercises: Talk about various ways to relieve stress in and out of the school. You can teach deep breathing and even go through a meditation activity. Inner Health Studio has a large variety of guided imagery scripts and worksheets on stress, anxiety, anger, and more. Your teachers would love you if you dim the lights and talk them through a guided imagery to relax and refresh them!
3. Tell Them How You Can Help: This is a great way to share all the many ways a school counselor or social worker and be of assistance to the teachers and other staff. I found this article, The Top 10 Ways School Counselors Can Support Teachers, to be a very straight forward list of how you can support the teachers. I suggest giving this as a handout as you go through each one on the list.
4. Anger Balloon Activity: I love this video on Anger Balloons because it is a fun demonstration of how anger can build up inside and explode if we don’t deal with it regularly. I use this in counseling and have the clients tell me what makes them angry and blow a little into the balloon with each thing. I suggest having one teacher blow into the balloon while the teachers shout out frustrations and things that stress them out throughout the year. Once the ballon is full, then you can continue with the demonstration about what would happen if you didn’t relieve some of the air (aka stress).
5. Filling Their Buckets: I wrote a post on bucket filling last year that I think would be a great activity to do with the teachers. I suggest getting the book. Read the book out loud for them. It’s a child’s book, but adults love getting read to! Then, have each teacher write down compliments, encouragement, and other bucket-filling statements for other teachers in the room. Depending on how many teacheres are there, you can have them all share in the meeting, or wait until afterward. You can even go so far as to get a “bucket” for every teacher so that others can drop special notes of encouragement for them over the next week, month, or semester.
If you are reading this and have ideas to share, please leave your comment!
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Author: Kim Peterson, MA, LPC-S, RPT

Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, and Registered Play Therapist in Dallas, Texas.

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