Axios Finish Line

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  • Smart Brevity™ count: 576 words ... 2 mins.

1 big thing: What stressed teachers want

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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Teaching has become one of the most draining jobs in America. So we asked Finish Line readers who are teachers how we can help them.

  • Why it matters: Teachers' stress and burnout is on the rise, while wages remain stagnant. All of us can step up to aid those who educate the next generation of leaders.

Here's what we learned from educators:

1. Gifts and acts of service make a difference.

  • "Pool resources and get your teacher a gift card to a local pool or yoga studio. Teachers are overworked and underpaid, and they've probably spent most of their discretionary income on their classroom anyway." —Cari C., a teacher in San Francisco
  • "I think people can help teachers by donating cleaning supplies to their child's teachers. ... Kids like having a job at school. The students gain a sense of pride and are rewarded by being told: 'Job well done!'" —Ashley N., a teacher in Orlando
  • "What teachers need is more and regular volunteers in the classrooms." —Sheila C., a teacher in Durant, Miss.
  • "Coffee, coffee, coffee. Best gift ever. We cannot leave the building, and have 20 minutes for lunch at best." —Beth T., a teacher in Northern Virginia

2. If you're a parent, be kind — and engage.

  • "Parents should always give the teacher the benefit of the doubt, rather than right away racing to the child's side. When the child performs well, it reflects on their teacher. So no teacher wants anything else for the child." —Keith S., a fifth-grade teacher in Old Greenwich, Conn.
  • "Please think before sending a request or complaint. The number of emails that teachers receive every day is breaking their backs." —Jeananne F., a retired principal from Fort Myers, Fla.
  • "Read to your child if they are young. If they are older, take them to the library with you and check out books. Talk about what you have read. Kids who see reading is important to the adults in their lives are far more likely to be engaged in school." —Patty M., a high school science teacher in Hammond, Ind.

3. "Thank you" goes a long way.

  • "Just saying thanks is unusual but provides such a mental energy boost for us when we are exhausted down to our souls!" —Robin G., a high school English teacher in Springdale, Ark.
  • Copy administrators on your "thank you" emails to teachers, says Joan K., a retired Connecticut teacher.

The bottom line: Appreciate and support the teachers in your life.

❤️ How your kids can help

Sincere thanks from students make up some of the brightest moments in a career, teachers told us.

  • "I am a preschool teacher and my favorite items that I keep forever are the letters (or hand-drawn pictures) from students saying how much they have learned or how much they like school." —Liz B. of West Des Moines, Iowa
  • "One thing that made a huge difference was when a former student told me a specific thing that I had done that made a difference. Often, it was something seemingly insignificant. But knowing I had impacted them in a positive way gave me motivation to get through when things were tough." —Rebecca H., a retired high school teacher in Baltimore

💡 Encourage your kids to write notes or cards to their most beloved teachers.

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