Teacher appreciation week is one of my favorite times of the year. As a former principal I looked forward to surprising my staff and showing them appreciation. I believe in going all out for people when showing appreciation and it was no different as a principal. Educators can often feel overwhelmed with their constantly changing busy schedules, grading papers, lesson plans, and classroom management among other daily activities. So teacher appreciation is just one of many times of the year that teachers and staff can feel special. I would have my plan already in place during the start of the school year. Normally there would be a theme that was closely connected to the school wide theme for the year.
My plan was pretty simple- Food, Gifts and Activities. My staff loved to eat (so did their leader LOL) so it was a no brainier that there would be days centered on food. The week normally started off small with a treat bag or something in the snack realm then lead up to a big luncheon style fest. One year for the school theme: Building on our Success, each day had a “Build your Own” food theme. Build your own yogurt parfait, Build your own Sundae, Build your own waffle station, and lastly a cookout with a Build your own hamburger station.
Those were great times and I enjoyed seeing my staff so happy. I would talk to other principal friends and I would be sad to hear that there was little to no fanfare for the week. I came to realize that many people weren’t having the same amount of excitement about the week as I was. Someone once asked me why was the week so important to me, that teachers should be happy to be working and I began to realize that I looked at the entire teacher appreciation week very differently than others had. Here are 2 things I realized:
- I enjoyed being a part of teacher’s growth and development as much as I did the students;
You must enjoy working with adults in the same manner as you enjoy working with students. Ever met a teacher who didn’t like children and wondered why they went into education in the first place? Those are the same thoughts I have when I talk to principals who don’t like working with adults. Ummu hello that’s a large part of your job.
- I believed in recognizing staff members year long and did so with a genuine spirit;
When you recognize staff members year long and are genuine in your appreciation it becomes a part of your school culture. I would do random interruptions with a snack cart, or stickers and even raffles for free 100 colored copies. The crowd favorite were the quick handwritten notes that I left in classrooms on sticky notes. It was a quick way to recognize the work that they were doing- they loved it. No one really wants a gift from someone who has been unpleasant towards them year round or has not built a relationship with them. In addition, as a leader if you haven’t built genuine positive relationships with your staff you won’t feel a desire to honor and appreciate staff.
Remember that rewarding teacher actions can go a long way. Treating the teachers with respect and gratitude will result in happy and motivated teachers. With a happy and motivated staff, there will be a good working environment which will result to teachers who strive to do a good job. It also promotes a sense of belonging causing the teachers to desire to make the school a better place.
Here are some ideas from past Teacher Appreciation Weeks:
Building on Our Success- Build Your Own Food Stations https://pin.it/z4v44o3qkrz4e5
Game On! Team Carver- Sports Inspired Food and Activities
“NACHO” Ordinary Teacher Day – Nacho bar
General Teacher Appreciation Board https://pin.it/dwra6dawoxtofw
Diving Deeper into Learning Pinterest Board https://pin.it/l3r5zehze7r37v
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