Uniting School Administrators to Create a Better World

It’s All About Morale – How to Create a Positive School Culture – Part-4 – Have a Teacher Appreciation Plan

This is the fourth installment in the series I’m calling, It’s All About Morale.

Again, I believe that one of our most important jobs as school administrators is to grow and maintain the positive morale of our staff. If our desire is to move the school forward, we can’t do it alone. We need the help of those directly influencing our students – teachers. Low morale doesn’t help us when we ask our teachers to do the additional effort it will take to improve our schools.

As administrators, we have to make teacher appreciation a primary focus of our jobs. We have to let them know that they are valuable and appreciated. Teacher appreciation leads to improved school morale. Morale-SchoolAdmnMastery-4

How do you show appreciation to your teachers? Do you have a Teacher of the Week program? A Teacher of the Month program? These are good. We need to keep these.

In this post, I wanted to share something that I’ve found to be even more powerful in building morale. What I’ve learned is that although top-down appreciation is good, lateral appreciation can have even a greater effect on morale.

When teachers and staff are given the opportunity to show appreciation to each other, you get a lot more bang for your morale-boosting buck than if it’s just coming from administration.

In my school, we have Kudos Cards. Each staff member is given the opportunity to give a Kudos Card to a colleague just to show some appreciation for a job well done. In staff meetings, I give teachers the opportunity to read and personally hand their Kudos Card to each other. It’s a great way to start off a staff meeting.

In my other blog where I share tips for new and soon-to-be teachers, I shared a post about Kudos Cards in hopes that teachers would use the cards share some appreciation and bring some happiness into their own lives. I’ve reposted it below.

Here it is. Originally posted on SuccessInTheClassroom.com.


Hello Amazing Teachers,

I wanted to share something that we’ve implemented at my school to share appreciation among the staff. We call them Kudos Cards.

Before every staff meeting, I place Kudos Cards in each teacher’s box. These are cards, that on the front side, have the quote, “You deserve some Kudos!” On the backside, there are set of lines to allow for some writing.

I encourage teachers to fill out a Kudos card for a fellow teacher or a member of the staff who they would like to appreciate.

At the staff meeting, the principal welcomes the teachers, then she turns the floor over to me for “Kudos time.”

This is my favorite time of the meeting.

I always begin by sharing the Kudos card where I have written about some cool thing that I’ve noticed that a member of the staff has done. I read what’s on the back of the card, and then hand over the card to the recipient while the rest of the room applauds.

Then, I ask for volunteers to share their Kudos cards. For the next few minutes, teachers take turns giving words of appreciation to each other. It’s a wonderful time.

Giving complements and showing gratitude are two of the concepts that I share in my book, Teach Happier. When we give to others, it not only makes the recipient happy, but research has confirmed what we’ve known all along – the giver gets a dose of happiness as well. I first learned about this research in Simon Sinek’s amazing book, Leaders Eat Last.

Kudos Cards are one way that we’ve used to help sustain our staff morale. I believe that because we have this system of colleague-to-colleague appreciation, our teachers are happier, and as you know, the whole premise behind my book is that when teachers can teach happier, they do their best work, and when teachers do their best work, amazing things happen. Showing appreciation is just one of the strategies that teachers can implement to bring more happiness into their lives.

I know I get a boost of happiness not only in giving Kudos cards, but also when I happen to get one from an appreciative teacher. What research has confirmed as well, is that just hearing other people giving out their compliments to each other, we can get even more boosts of happiness. It’s a win-win-win situation.

What I also like is that teachers can post these cards in their classrooms near their desk, so they can be reminded on a daily basis that someone thinks they’re worthy of a little praise. With all the demands placed on teachers, a little praise can go a long way. I know I have my Kudos Cards up on my wall in my office.

Recently, I walked into the staff room, and I saw something that initially made me a little sad. There was a Kudos card in the recycling bin. I’ve included a photo.kudos-recycling-bin

I guess I could have been upset. I could have seen it as a sign that someone on my staff does not see the value of showing appreciation to colleagues.

Instead, I was inspired to use this event to bring some happiness to our staff.

I wrote the following poem and sent it the staff. Note: Dr. Lin is our District Superintendent.

A Sad Day in the Staff Room

Such a sad story.
Where do I begin?
The staff room was quiet
That day I walked in.
There caught my eye,
As I lowered my chin,
A Kudos card in the recycling bin.

First came confusion.
I felt my head spin.
Then came surprise,
Like a kick in the shin.
Finally my heart
Felt a sadness therein.
A Kudos card in the recycling bin.

Oh what a treasure
That card could have been.
It could have turned
Somebody’s frown to a grin.
The lines on the card
Not even filled in.
That Kudos card in the recycling bin.

I am not an expert,
But it must be a sin
Such as sad day
Let the mourning begin.
If you happen to see him, Don’t tell Dr. Lin
Of the Kudos card in the recycling bin.

So with my supply
Of rhyming words running thin
Don’t let this sad story
Be retold again.
Give props to a colleague.
Now that’s a win-win.
No more Kudos cards in the recycling bin.


I designed our school’s Kudos cards and included our school’s logo, but if you would like a version without our logo, I’ve uploaded a template of a Kudos card that you can use at your school to my TeachersPayTeachers.com page. You can download a PDF template here.

If you’re not already using a colleague-to-colleague appreciation system, I would encourage you to start, even if you’re the only one letting your teachers know that their efforts are being noticed and appreciated. It will not only make them happier, but it will bring you some happiness as well. Trust me. It’s an awesome feeling.

Learn more about how you can bring more happiness into your life and the lives of your colleagues in my book, Teach Happier – 21 stress-reducing, joy-inspiring, burnout-avoiding strategies to help teachers love their jobs and have more success in the classroom. Check it out here.

Until next time, here’s to your Success in the Classroom!


Until next time, here’s to our journey toward School Administration Mastery!

Thank you,


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Teach Happier

Teach Happier - 21 stress-reducing, joy-inspiring, burnout-avoiding strategies to help teachers love their jobs and have more success in the classroom - Sam Rangel