15 Ways for Principals to Show Teachers Their Appreciation

Posted on Wed, Oct 02, 2013 @ 11:10 AM

teacher appreciationNational Teacher Day isn’t until May, but in our experience, 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, we’re sharing 15 simple ways principals can recognize teachers throughout the year. We owe the principals over at Education World a big thank you for sharing their ideas. Should you find that the tips we’ve listed below aren’t enough, you’ll find 50 more by visiting the original article here.

15 Ways for Principals to Show Teachers Their Appreciation

  • Host a "Thank You Breakfast" during Teacher Appreciation Week, or during another time of the year when teachers least expect and most need it.

  • Recognize special contributions by putting "Cookie Coupons" in teachers' mailboxes. Arrange with the cafeteria for teachers to redeem those coupons for a special treat.

  • Whenever you are able, send a personally written—preferably, handwritten—note of thanks or appreciation to teachers "caught" caring or pulling off terrific classroom projects. Send at least a dozen of those notes each week. Keep a copy for the teacher's file; later in the school year you will be able to draw on those positive moments as you compose teachers' evaluations.

  • At each faculty meeting, hold a lottery drawing for a "free" two-hour break during which time you will cover a teacher's class. The break can be redeemed at any time, but it needs to be arranged at least a week in advance.

  • Each month, hold a party to recognize staff members who will celebrate birthdays that month.

  • Provide a duty-free week during scheduled state-test times. Arrange to have PTA parents or others cover those duties.

  • Purchase fresh flowers for teachers' desks during parent-teacher conference week.

  • In your public address announcements remind students to show appreciation for their teachers in all kinds of ways.

  • At the end of each grading period—when teachers have spent hours agonizing over student performance—send special notes of appreciation.

  • If you have lost part of your school vacation to snow days, provide some special treats on those makeup days to recognize the extra stress that goes with losing valuable R&R time or planning days.

  • If it starts snowing a couple hours before school lets out, go outside and scrape or brush off teachers' cars so they can get on the road soon after the bell rings.

  • Provide dinner between school and an evening PTA meeting.

  • Purchase a special book for the school library to recognize a teacher or honor a special occasion (for example, a retirement, a 20th teaching anniversary, or the completion of a master's degree). You might even give the teacher the choice of what book to purchase. Include inside the book a special bookplate to commemorate the teacher, the landmark occasion, and the date.

  • To recognize the start of spring, add fresh flowers to the teacher's room and provide each teacher with a flowering plant to brighten his or her desk. Serve up a snack of spring rolls—homemade, or ordered hot from a local Chinese restaurant—to accompany lunch.

  • At each faculty meeting, hold a random drawing for a "lunch of the month." On a specific day, those teachers will get to order-in from the restaurant-of-choice's menu.
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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, effective feedback, faculty meetings, Teacher Appreciation

5 steps to creating a unified school vision statement

Posted on Thu, Jul 11, 2013 @ 12:07 PM

vision statementImagine randomly selecting teachers and asking them, “What is our school’s vision?” How many different answers would you receive? Sure, they’d share commonalities, but would they be grounded in a collective philosophy? Would they align with a specific plan of action? Or would they be hazy generalities that mention “student success,” “academic rigor” and “excellence?”  

Schools succeed when all of us—administrators and teachers—are working in step towards a common goal. One of the best ways to make this happen is by creating (and putting in writing) a vision statement. Most institutions (churches, corporations, clubs, small businesses) have one and while you can certainly use these to get you started, we wanted to share a collaborative activity to help you develop your own. This idea comes courtesy of Pam Robbins’s and Harvey Alvy’s book, The New Principal’s Fieldbook.

5 steps to creating a unified school vision statement

As you and your faculty consider your vision statement, reflect on the following questions:

  • Who are we serving?
  • What are the characteristics of our students and their families?
  • What changes have we made in the past and what changes are we planning for the future?
  • What expectations do we have for our students? Each other?
  • What are our dreams and aspirations for our students?
  • What are our aspirations for the school?
  • What kind of school do we want for our children?
  • What will our students learn and how will they learn it?
  • What distinguishes us from other schools?
  • How will we measure or demonstrate these distinctions?
  • If parents have a choice as to where they will send their child, why would they choose our school?

After an informal discussion about the above questions, pass out Post-it pads and one notecard for each staff member and work through numbers 1-5 below.

1. Ask your staff to reflect on the place s/he envisions his/her child going to school. What would it look like? How would the child be treated? What would his/her experiences be like? Now have your faculty write their reflections on a Post-it note.

2. Now ask the staff to think about a work environment they would like to go to every day. What would it look like? What would their experiences be like? Now have your staff write their answers on another Post-it note.
3. Now ask your staff to look over the two Post-it notes and do their best to consolidate them into one. When they are ready, have them write their thoughts on an index card.

4. Divide your staff into groups of four or five and assign one member as the group secretary. Each member should share their statements with the group. Once each member has shared their statement, the group must collaborate to create a unified statement. The group secretary is responsible for writing this down. Once each group is satisfied with its vision statement, they will write it on the board at the front of the classroom.

5. Now that all of your groups have written their vision statements on the board, it’s time to come back together as one group and repeat the process.


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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, educational leaders, Becoming an effective principal, aspiring school administrator, faculty meetings, vision statement

Speed Geeking: Have students flip your faculty meetings

Posted on Fri, May 31, 2013 @ 09:05 AM

speed geeking faculty meetingsLast week, I had a formatting issue in Microsoft Word. I toiled over it for an hour by Googling any phrase or keyword that I thought would lead to a solution. Finally, I threw up my hands and called my “tech guy”: My 12-year-old niece. “Oh, that?” she said. “That’s simple.” She issued instructions (rather pedantically, I felt) and waited for me to do as instructed. Three clicks later I was in business.

We may think we’re tech savvy, but we’ve got nothing on young people like our students. This brings me to a new concept I’ve been hearing about: “Speed Geeking.” Essentially, it’s a professional-development strategy that loosely mimics speed dating, but replaces the dating part with student-led technology sessions.

Students facilitate Speed Geeking by preparing a brief presentation around technology. Each student is given five or ten minutes to share their favorite piece of technology—iMovie, say, or Storybird, Twitter and Flocabulary—and explain to teachers and administrators how it enhances their learning.

I’m interested in this Speed Geeking thing for a few reasons:

First, it’s student-centered. Speed Geeking gives students the opportunity to design instructional practice and values them as contributing members of the school.

Second, it’s a way to breathe new life into our stodgy old faculty meetings and get our hands on new tech-tools that we know students respond to.

If you’d like to learn more about Speed Geeking, check out this article by Kim Cofino. Happy geeking.


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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, Becoming an effective principal, aspiring school administrator, faculty meetings, speed geeking

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