A friend once told me, “One good deed is worth more than a thousand good intentions.”
Sometimes I am guilty of good intentions without good actions. But when it comes to appreciating others, my good intentions won’t ever let others know they’re appreciated as much as a few simple actions.
What are some simple, creative ways you can communicate appreciation to your teachers and staff?
The following tips are ideas you can employ throughout the school year to let others know they are appreciated for their hard work:
1. Send “Kudos” Emails
As I walk through our building, one of my favorite activities is to take notes on what I see students and teachers doing. Afterwards, it is fun to email the entire staff a message titled “kudos.”
Here’s an example of one I’ve sent out: “Teachers, This morning I observed students identifying the tools and small-engine parts in Ag Mechanics, solving recursive equations in Trig, drawing periodic tables in Physical Science, conversing with new vocabulary in Spanish I, and converting milligram measurements in Marine Biology. Others were taking quizzes, reading aloud, or learning with SMART boards. There is a reason our school-wide scores continue to improve; you are teaching well! Keep up the good work!”
2. Create a Video Montage
An idea I borrowed from another principal this year was creating a short “Way to Go!” video clip for teachers.
Using the built-in camera on my Ipad, I discretely caught teachers in action. After emailing each clip to myself and using Windows Live Movie Maker, it took about 25 minutes after school editing the clips into a short presentation. After uploading it to Youtube, I was able to send the link via email.
Here’s a sample: Rock Star Teachers Video! When I shared mine, I reminded our teachers that this was just a sample of the rock-star teaching they do on a daily basis.
3. Hand-Written Notes or Cards
Sometimes a hand-written card or short note says ‘thank you’ best.
The first year I did this, I had more than one veteran teacher tell me they couldn’t remember ever receiving a hand-written thank-you from a school administrator.
Words of affirmation are motivational. I usually keep notes others have given me. It is encouraging to pull them out occasionally and remind myself why I chose to be an educator. If I love those notes, I have to remember others do too.
4. Monthly Awards
It is a tradition at our school to consistently recognize one or more team members a month for their service to students or the school community.
We like to announce and present our teachers-of-the-month at faculty meetings. Certificates and gift-cards are simple gestures, but these awards also provide a platform for encouraging all of us to maximize their time helping students and one another.
It is easy to “become an island” when you are teaching. Acknowledging one person’s a great job affirms what great learning is taking place throughout the entire school.
5. Newsletter/Website Publicity
Each time we have a significant success, we like to let others know by publishing a quick note and photo in our school newsletter.
Many of those stories also appear on the school website. In addition, our superintendent is a great cheerleader; he will often send notices to the entire district via email of teacher and student achievements.
We also forward those notices on to our local newspaper, where many of them end up reported to the entire community.
Nothing replaces the times when you can look someone straight in the eye and tell them how much you appreciate them. Sometimes this happens spontaneously when you have a moment in a hallway or catch someone on a planning period or at lunch.
Of course, a great time to do this is during evaluation meetings. If you value meaningful feedback, you can be sure the people on your team value the feedback as well.
7. Food, Food, Food!
Whether it’s doughnuts for meetings, potluck lunches, free dinners during parent conferences, or an occasional meal out-together with a team member, everyone appreciates something tasty.
We have the privilege of having some folks on our team who love to cook. Instead of catering-in or doing a potluck for a recent appreciation luncheon, we bought what was needed for our in-house chefs to create some of their favorite dishes. It was a tremendous success.
We also like to start our school year off by hosting a lunch with our newest teachers to match them with mentor team members. At the district level, we have a long tradition of beginning the first district-wide meeting of the year with a barbecue lunch.
If I had the ability to pass out real bonuses or pay commission to my team members, I would be thrilled. Even if I could, I would still want to show them appreciation through emails, catching them on camera, little notes, monthly awards, newsletter/website publications, face-to-face conversations and meals, cakes and treats.
We’re gearing up for our Teacher Appreciation Week, and we’ll do some great meals and small gifts, etc. But we can’t forget that great team members deserve thanks every week of the year.
Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas
If you want more ideas for teacher appreciation, check out my other post Teacher Appreciation Week: 5 Ways for Involving Your Community.
What are some ways you have found to show appreciation for your team members? What are some ways you most enjoy being appreciated for a job well done? Think of one way you can celebrate someone today, and then do it.
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