Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs For Teachers

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is well known.  I’ve always looked at it with specific students in mind.  What is my role in their lives to help meet their needs?  How will they ever get past the bottom of the triangle?  

Teachers give and give and give.  We want the best for our students!  If their basic needs of food, water, warmth, and rest aren’t being met then learning is going to be a struggle.  So we end up stocking our closets with breakfast items, letting the school counselor know about their needs, taking extra time for them, encouraging them to get to bed by 9:00, and so on.  We know that education will help them have successful lives but having their basic needs met is first priority.  Without that they won’t be able to achieve their full potential.

Teachers are terrible at taking care of themselves.  What if we thought about self care as actually taking care of our students?  We can give more if we are filled.  


Are you needs being met?  

The frustrating thing about self care is it feels like one more thing to add to your to-do list.  Why can’t someone else take care of me?  I don’t even have the energy to take care of myself!  

So I’ve rewritten this hierarchy of needs for a teacher’s life.  Take care of yourself.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Teachers

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Physiological needs

  1. Sleep in or nap on the weekend
  2. Go for a leisurely walk in the woods
  3. Eat out at your favorite restaurant
  4. Stock a snack drawer in your desk at school
  5. Buy a new water bottle.  This one is my favorite.  But I also want this one because of the infuser on the bottom! 


  1. Meet with your administrator if you are feeling unsafe about a parent or coworker
  2. Curl up with a blanket and watch a movie
  3. Light a candle.  For some reason candles do this for me.  My favorite scent is Café Al Fresco.
  4. Set boundaries in unhealthy relationships

Belongingness and Love

  1. Have coffee with a friend
  2. Call your best friend who lives far away
  3. Host an informal game night
  4. Go to a concert or movie with a friend
  5. Get these encouragement cards to give to colleagues
  6. Or how great are these sticky notes with motivational quotes


  1. Make a list of all you have accomplished this year
  2. Display your favorite motivating quotes on your desk 
  3. Watch some Kid President or Ted Talks for Teachers 
  4. Make a list of the students you have made a difference for
  5. Get this necklace or magnet as a reminder that you are doing great things
  6. Get this journal and committ to working through it


  1. Write down a goal and how to accomplish it for this month
  2. Make a list of all the creative ideas that are running around in your mind
  3. Make time for your favorite hobby
  4. Wear this necklace
  5. Read a book about something that interests your
  6. Plan a trip focused on personal growth

As I came up with this list I found myself making my own excuses for why I can’t do these things.  “Sleep in?!  I have this list of errands to run and laundry and blah blah blah…”  That’s the problem.  We put our to-do lists first, not ourselves.  I’ll admit that my to-do list runs my life.  So I’ve had to add self-care to my to-do list.  Make it a priority.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish.  Ultimately, it will allow you to take care of others better.


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