Hello amazing school administrators.
This is the fifth installment in the series of posts that I am calling, It’s All About Morale.
In the last post, I shared about how our school is using Kudos cards to allow the staff to recognize and show appreciation to each other.
In this post, I want to share some ways that we as school administrators can show appreciation to our teachers.
The entire premise of these posts is based on the idea that in order to move our schools forward, we cannot ignore the importance of positive school morale. If our teachers don’t love where they work, they won’t do their best work, and if our teachers aren’t doing their best work, then it will be difficult to create any movement toward reaching the academic goals of the school. This seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, what I’ve seen in my 30 years in education, is that building staff morale hasn’t been a high priority for most school administrators. Other priorities like improving test scores and reducing disciplinary issues have had a higher ranking for the majority of school administrators I have known.
Strategic planning to improve and then maintain positive school morale has to be, in my opinion, high on the school administrator’s list of priorities.
One effective way to help create and promote this positive school culture is to find opportunities to let teachers know that you appreciate them.
Yes, I know there is the annual “Teacher Appreciation Week,” and we should really go all out for teachers on that week, but what happens the rest of the year?
Here are some ideas that I’ve found to let your teachers know that you think they’re pretty awesome.
- Give Time – Cover their class for a period or an hour. Cover their duty location for a day.
- Gift card – I don’t know about your district, but we’re not permitted to purchase gift cards with school money, so gift cards come out of my pocket, and that’s OK. Starbucks is always a good choice.
- Public Shout Outs – Use your staff meeting to show some gratitude to a couple of teachers. As I shared in the previous post, our staff uses Kudos cards, but I always start that portion of the meeting by sharing the Kudos card that I wrote for a teacher.
- Selfie – Yes, I said selfie. I haven’t tried this yet (as of this posting), but I think it would be cool to take a selfie with a deserving teacher, and post it on Social Media with a caption describing why you think that teacher is awesome.
- Pinterest – There are a ton of cool gift ideas on Pinterest. Most are targeting parents who want to give a nice gift to their child’s teacher, but you can take some of these ideas and create cool gifts from administration to teachers.
- Lottery Tickets – This is another one that has to come out of our pockets, but everybody loves scratchers. The only risk is if the teacher wins a million dollars, you may lose him/her to retirement.
- Wall of Fame – A lot of schools have a spot on their front office wall to post photos of Staff Members of the Week.
- Car Wash – Have your Leadership or Club kids wash a deserving teacher’s car during the day.
- Special Parking Spot – Many schools will have a Teacher of the Week parking spot closest to the front door.
- Thank you Donut/Bagel – Stop by the donut shop and pick up something for a deserving teacher.
- Birthday Cake – I did this recently, and it was amazing. I stopped by my local grocery store on the way to work, and bought a decorated muffin for $2.99. They put it in a cute box, and I delivered it to the teacher’s room. You would have thought she won the lottery. She was so grateful, and I felt awesome as well. It’s what I’m doing from now on for teachers when their birthdays arrive.
- Lunch – Surprise a teacher by buying them lunch.
- Letter to spouse/kids – This is one that I haven’t tried yet, but I want to. I want to create a letter of appreciation that is mailed to a teacher’s spouse or kids that thanks them for allowing us to borrow their husband/mother/father for a few hours each day. I would add a few lines explaining how the efforts of the teacher is making a difference in the school and in the future. Wouldn’t that be a cool way to show appreciation?
These are just some ideas that I’ve thought up or found somewhere. I’m sure there are more. Please feel free to send me some more ideas of how to show appreciation to our teachers.
Every year, I try to do something a little extra special for teachers who I’ve observed going above and beyond for our kids. Last year, I bought some nice smooth black rocks, and I wrote with a paint pen, “You Rock!” I would leave these little “You-Rock rocks” in teachers’ boxes along with a note that explained why they received it. It wasn’t much, but the teachers appreciated it, and I would often find their “rock” decorating their desks.
This year, I’ve done something different. I designed a post card with enough room for a 3”x3” Post-it note pad to fit on it. I ordered some copies made, affixed a pad of Post-its on them, and I’ve been giving them to teachers as my way of saying thank you. The response has been amazing. Teachers love Post-it notes, but what has been more amazing has been the response that I’ve been getting from the teachers. They are very grateful for the gesture. It’s a small gesture, but it’s meaningful, and it goes a long way to bring a little bit of happiness into the lives of teachers, while at the same time making me feel good as well. Here’s a photo of one I left on a teacher’s desk recently.
The point I’m trying to make here is that if you are looking to improve the morale of the school, there is nothing that will have a greater effect, in my humble opinion, than practicing gratitude. We hear about having an “attitude of gratitude,” and that’s good, but practicing gratitude is where the magic happens. My question for you is, “How are you practicing gratitude toward your teachers?”
Hopefully this post will inspire you to include teacher appreciation as an important piece of your school success plan.
Until next time, here’s to our journey toward School Administration Mastery!
Note: I’m offering the teacher appreciation stickie cards on my other site if you’re interested. You can learn more by going to TheTeachersArt.com.