There are many things is this world that I love and adore, so I'm bringing two of them together in this week's post. Teachers are, hands-down, my absolute favorite humans. I am married to a teacher, I have family who are teachers, many of my best friends are teachers. And even though I haven't had my own physical classroom in several years, my heart still tells myself, "Hey, you are a teacher! You just teach adults now!"
Teachers are insightful, delightful, hard-working, loving, efficient! people. We care, care, and care some more about everyone in our sphere--students and adults alike.
And because we are so good at what we do, we often don't leave enough in the tank to care for ourselves at the end of the day. This whole idea of self-care sounds great, in theory, but for there to be any chance of us caring for ourselves, we have to first also better understand ourselves.
Enter one of my second favorite loves: personal development and all things "getting better." I am a junkie for personality tests (though I can never, ever remember my Myers-Briggs type) and I love all books, podcasts, and "quizzes" that help me better understand me and those around me. For me, it isn't about pigeon-holing people into types but rather the use of common vocabulary that helps us to just peel back more layers into who we are and what makes us tick.
One ancient tool for understanding that has absolutely made its way back into pop-culture personal growth is of course the Enneagram. I am no way at all any type of expert-ish anything on the Enneagram, but I do love it. I am a firm 8 (the Challenger) who sometimes tries to convince myself that I might be a 3 (the Achiever), but who am I kidding? I'm a total 8 with some 3 tendencies. If you'd like to learn more about the Enneagram, I recommend checking out some resources from Enneagram Ashton (you might recognize her from Instagram!) or exploring any number of Enneagram books.
One thing I do know is that it's recommended that you learn your Enneagram through reading and research--not only an online quiz--but many people do use a quiz to at least start. And because I work with school and district teams at work, I'm super interested in reading The Enneagram at Work book by Jim McParlan (I'll let you know if I do read it or not).
Back to the point. I love teachers. I love the Enneagram. And I also love making fun graphics when I feel so called to do so. See below.
If we're going to talk care for our teachers, it's helpful to start by knowing who they are, what they might like, what calls to their interests, etc. Obviously this fun little graphic isn't an extensive, all-encompassing gift-giving guide (though a quick Google search for Enneagram gifts may be helpful!) but it at least calls us to be intentionally fun and considerate and we celebrate our well-deserving teachers.
The other tricky part is, you aren't supposed to 'type' another person. My husband, for example, says he's a 9 (the Peacekeeper) but if I had to pick the type of gifts he values most...it lines right up with a 5 (the Analyst). As an 8 (the Challenger) I don't necessarily crave a debate, but man I do carry a ton of stress in my shoulders so yes, bring on that massage roller, please!
Would we both find value in a framed photo of students? You bet! Would we love a coloring book for adults...just not our jam.
So, what are the nine types? Should we at least include this info? According to the Enneagram Institute, the nine types include:
Again, just seeing these descriptions isn't really a way to determine what a teacher might want or appreciate. And honestly for some of us, the best gifts we can receive involve time, words of affirmation, or acts of service. Sometimes the best way we appreciate someone is by taking something off of their plate--not necessarily adding a gift on top of it.
We give gifts to show our love and appreciation, and we gratefully receive gifts with the blessed intention behind them. As you consider ways to show your appreciation to the teachers in your life this year, the Enneagram connection might be a nice way to help you decide your choices.