We always make it a point to honor our teachers during National Teacher Appreciation Day, but we know that trying to cram all of our appreciation into a single day can feel slightly disingenuous to teachers. Rather than wait for May to roll around again, we’d like to share 10 simple ways principals can recognize teachers throughout the year. These ideas have been adapted from Emily Houck’s book, 100 Ways to Recognize and Reward Your School Staff.
A Bit O’ Grape
Presenting a teacher with a bottle of wine may not be in your sweet spot, but you can still give a bit o’ grape without bringing alcohol onto campus.
How about a bottle of non-alcoholic, sparkling wine instead? We like to present “wine” to teachers and staff members who work tirelessly and never whine or complain. Since we’re suckers for word puns, we always like to attach a note to the bottle that says, “You are appreciated! Thank you for always working hard and never “wining.”
Set your alarm early so you can get to school before your most appreciated teacher. Cover the teacher’s desk with balloons by either taping them to the surface of the desk or filling them with helium and taping the ribbon down. Attach notes to the balloons that highlight specific things you appreciate about the teacher.
The Brush Off
If you live in a part of the country where it snows, the brush off will work. Prepare tickets in advance that say, “You have been brushed by a member of Student Council.” On days when it snows during school hours, send a dozen students out to the teacher parking lot to brush off windshields and leave a note under the wipers.
The Wash Down
This is an alternative for those of you that live in places that get snow. As with the brush off, grab a dozen students and send them out to the teacher parking lot to wash cars!
At each faculty meeting, hold a lottery drawing for a "free" two-hour break during which time you will cover a teacher's class. Let the winner know that s/he can use this ticket at any time, but must set the time a week in advance.
Order business cards for every staff member. What your teachers and staff members do for our children and society is critical and should be treated as such! Teachers deserve to have their own business cards.
No Work Talk
Hold a faculty and staff “meeting” where teachers cannot discuss anything related to work—no education talk, no student talk, no talk about grading. Anyone who breaks the rule has to donate $1.00 to a charity fund. This works well if you go to a local restaurant or coffee shop, too.
Clean out those files
Consider giving this reward to a teacher who really needs a break. This will give him or her a chance to come up for air. Here’s how it works:
Give a “Clean Out Your Files Day” to a deserving teacher. The teacher will still be “working,” so s/he isn’t counted as absent, but because you secured a substitute teacher that day, the teacher will be free to do something s/he has always wanted to do, but never had the time. This might be as simple as organizing a filing cabinet or preparing a lesson plan s/he’s always wanted to teach, but never had time to.
This is slightly cheesy, but we’re not above it. Buy a package of Swedish Fish and attach a note that says one of the following:
- We’re hooked on your great attitude
- Your dedication is “fin-tastic”
- Your team commitment makes a big splash
- Your attention to detail is clear to “sea”
- You dive into every task with enthusiasm
- Your efforts make a whale of a difference
Put Your Feet Up
Cover the class or classes of a teacher and give him or her the afternoon off. Make sure the teacher goes and does something fun or relaxing and doesn’t go do school work!
This is as simple as they come. Have cards made up with the word “Bravo” on the front and nothing written on the inside. When you see something that deserves recognition, write a brief description on the inside with a note of thanks and place it in the teacher or staff member’s mailbox.
Photo credit: Carolyn_Sewell / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)