Every educator has learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We know that if our students’ physiological needs aren’t being met, they won’t learn. They can’t focus on the content if they’re hungry, tired, thirsty, or cold. They also will not learn if they don’t feel safe at school. Are they being bullied? Do they fear walking to school because of the environment from point A to point B?

In the same way that students can’t learn if their needs aren’t being met, teachers cannot be effective educators if their needs aren’t being met either. We can’t fill anyone else’s bucket if ours is empty. Do you know your staff? Everyone working at the school district has a stake in ensuring students get the best education

Physiological Needs

  • Does your staff have time to grab a decent lunch?
  • Can they snack in between classes if necessary?
    • Snack drawers are essential.
    • Or, another great idea is ask your PTO or local businesses or donors to donate snacks/waters for your staff and deliver it during classes, especially to teachers who have first or last period conferences.
  • They’re struggling with hunger, thirst and the need to use the restroom facilities probably.
  • Other physiological needs that need to be met include warmth and sleep.
    • While you can’t force your staff to get adequate sleep, you can encourage them to NOT work 24/7.
    • It’s a job; it’s not a way of life
    • Is their office or classroom warm or cool enough? If not, how do you help them?

Safety Needs

  • Do they feel secure at work?
  • Is it a safe environment where co-workers and administrators are not bullying?
    • We’ve been bullied by administrators in the past. It’s not fun and going to work is dreaded. That definitely impacts the performance.
  • Do the administrators threaten job security as an encouragement or motivational strategies for a better performance?
    • That definitely doesn’t work; it’ll backfire and stress the educator out more.
  • Do you encourage those in the building? Encouragement cards or emails are a great way to make people feel safe and secure.

Love & Belonging Needs

Love and belonging needs are strange to think of with educators. However, people spend 8-10 hours a day at a place work and it’s never great to feel lonely or out of place. One of the professional development days I was part of was a team building day. We spent it at a gaming place where we bowled and took part in other activities in teams that were not our normal teams. Subject teachers were separated, not everyone was part of the same grade level, secretaries and aides were also included. New relationships were formed and we learned to rely and trust on one another on another level. That campus knew relationships and a sense of belonging was vital. Organized game nights for team building and sticky notes with motivational quotes are also great ways to ensure the staff’s love and belonging needs are met.

Esteem Needs

  • How does your staff earn achievements?
  • Is there an employee of the month?
  • Are there crazy awards out of the norm such as most spirited or best dressed employee that would meet employees’ esteem needs?
  • Does the staff feel they’re seen favorably?
  • Do administrators provide specific compliments?
    • While this definitely falls on the employee, others can help meet the needs with encouraging an accomplishment journal or giving them motivational quotes that fit their need.

Self Actualization

  • Are employees meet their full potential and utilizing their strengths.
    • Are they teaching courses that bring them joy or were they stuck with the classes no one wanted.
    • Are they serving on committees that could use their strengths?

We believe our Journey Through Education guide is a great resource to help with this need. We set goals for personal and career growth, encourage creativity through vision boards, and help their Journey Through Education and journey through life outside of work.

We can’t pour from an empty cup or help others survive if our oxygen masks aren’t on first. Taking care of our needs, self-care, is not selfish but necessary. While administrators or co-workers are not in charge of co-workers needs, it’s important to understand what needs are not being met to understand why they may not be they’re not reaching their best potential in their current position.