By Andrew Hawk
During teacher appreciation week, teachers across America are presented with discounts in their communities and various gifts from parent organizations. Most community outlets have ways they show appreciation for teachers. But how can teachers show appreciation for one another?
In an occupation where adults work side by side for years but interact with each other for only a brief portion of the day, teachers can easily get distracted by the daily grind. Too often, the only time colleagues tell one another how much they enjoy working together is when someone is leaving for another school or city or is retiring. This year, I suggest that teachers everywhere find an opportunity to show appreciation for one another. Here are some ideas you might try to show appreciation for your colleagues.
Start a “Pay It Forward” Chain
Most people are familiar with the phrase “pay it forward.” This idea of doing random favors with the expectation that the recipients of the favors will do favors for other people is a great way to raise spirits around the workplace. The best part is that if everyone participates, no one has to know who did each individual favor. And not having to pay back favors saves planning time and increases spontaneity.
Give Shout Outs
These are great to include in morning announcements. The idea is simple: During announcements, the speaker simply gives a shout-out to a teacher, accompanied by a compliment. Compliments may be collected from students or written by staff members.
Arrange a Building Potluck
A potluck is a great way for staff to come together for lunch. While these often take place during the holiday season, teacher appreciation week is also a great time to hold one. This gives everyone the perfect excuse to find time to eat together.
Have a Family Night
A potluck does not have to be limited to just staff members during lunch. You can organize a family night for staff and their families. This is a great way not only to show appreciation for teachers but also to give families a chance to get to know each other.
Ask your administrator to dedicate a staff meeting for teachers to share their favorite memories of working with one another. Some people will think this is cheesy at first, but once the ball gets rolling, most people really enjoy these sessions.
Post Compliment Posters
Hang pieces of poster board with teachers’ names on them for staff and students to write compliments on as they walk by the posters. People are sometimes willing to write things they feel awkward saying. For this reason, these posters can enlighten teachers about how much they are really appreciated.
Post Teacher Spotlights
Teacher spotlights are where teachers post brief written biographies of one another. The idea is to give each teacher a moment of recognition. It is also great to include information such as why the teacher chose a career in education. This project can be a big undertaking. It is most fair to have each staff member write the biography of a colleague and then to post the spotlights in batches throughout the week. These can be hung around the school, or you can choose a special place to make an arrangement.
Have a Casual Day
I have yet to hear a colleague complain about a casual day. Ask your administrator to allow for an extra casual day in honor of teacher appreciation week. Teachers will love being comfortably dressed while also feeling appreciated.
Host a Teacher Car Wash
A few years ago, some teachers arranged for students to wash teachers’ cars at my school. Students volunteered to do this, and teachers signed up to supervise. There was a large turnout of student support for this idea. The students enjoyed playing with water at school and getting extra time outside.
Make Positive Social Media Posts
Lots of people, including teachers, enjoy social media. Write a nice post on a colleague’s page. You could tell the colleague how valuable he or she is to your school or post a teacher appreciation graphic. A quick Web search will produce a variety of graphics from which you can choose.
Make a Bold Statement
If you cannot try any of the previous ideas, find your favorite colleague and tell him or her you enjoy working together. At the very least, you will have brightened this person’s day. Sometimes it is the smallest gestures that mean the most to people.
Andrew Hawk has worked in public education for fourteen years, starting as a teaching assistant in a special education classroom. He has taught first, second, and fifth grades as a classroom teacher, and for the past three years, has worked as a resource room teacher, providing services for fourth and fifth graders. Working as a special education teacher has given him the opportunity to work with a variety of age groups and exceptionalities. In 2011, he earned his master’s degree in special education from Western Governor’s University. When Andrew is not preparing for school, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter.
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