So… I’ll admit that this challenge maybe should have been sent out a few weeks ago as Teacher Appreciation Week is now upon us, but we still felt like it was worth posting even though it’s late in the game. I don’t know about you, but as a principal I always looked forward to Teacher Appreciation Week. I loved putting time, energy, and creative thought into how to honor the challenging and important work that teachers do day in and day out. For me it was always the ultimate time to celebrate teachers, and Beth and I both believe in doing this in a very authentic and personal way. We will admit that we have both had colleagues who do not look forward to this week… They treat it like one more thing to check off the “to do” list. Their celebration of teachers this week is usually very general and looks something like picking a gift from a catalog and telling their secretary to order one for everyone, creating a generic note to attach to it and either putting it in the teacher mailboxes or handing it out at a staff meeting with a very general speech that sounds something like this: “You are all my heroes! Each and every one of you makes a difference in the lives of our students, and I’m grateful for the work you all do.” Sometimes the speech and the gift are accompanied by a lunch or some treats brought in by the PTA or catered by a local restaurant chosen by the secretary. Teacher appreciation… Check! While celebrating teacher appreciation week in a general way can be a powerful component of what you do… adding a personalized touch can take it to the next level.
That’s what Beth and I like to do! Rather than just generalize teacher appreciation this week, we strive to personalize it and make it meaningful for each individual teacher in some way. We also like to do things where we personally give of our time rather than asking others to give theirs. It takes more time and effort, but it is time well spent if by the end of the week each teacher knows that there is something unique and special about them that you appreciate and that you are willing to put in the time to honor their unique talents and gifts. Including just one thing throughout the week that is personalized shows teachers that you care, that you notice what makes them different and special, and contributes to building that positive culture on your campus. We ask our teachers to personalize for our students, Teacher Appreciation Week is a great way to do the same for our staff.
So… our #LeadLAP Challenge to you this week is to build in just one thing that is personalized for each teacher or is personally giving of your time. Below are a few examples of things that Beth and I have done over the years. We would love for you to share what you are doing to personalize teacher appreciation all week using the #LeadLAP hashtag.
Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas:
- Choose a book that you want to give to everyone, but make it personal in some way. Beth gave her entire staff a copy of P is for PIRATE: Inspirational ABC’s for Educators and chose a letter that represented each individual teacher well. She wrote a personal, hand-written note, inserted on the particular page explaining why that particular letter reminded her of them. Below are a few pics:
- Create an individualized poster for each teacher to hang in their classrooms. Select a different quote or poem for each teacher and write a personal note as to why that quote/poem reminded you of them. If you have a special staff meeting or lunch, it’s fun to have these hanging up to decorate the room. Teachers can do a gallery walk and see them and then take theirs down at the end of the event.
- Take an hour one day this week and visit every single classroom. Tell their students that it is Teacher Appreciation Week and share a few words with the class about why you think their teacher is special.
- Write a personalized letter to each teacher’s spouse, parent, or other significant person in their life telling them how much you appreciate them and why. I had a teacher do this for me once… he wrote a letter to my mom thanking her for all she had done to contribute to the person I had become and they type of leader I was for our school. It was one of the best gifts I (and my mom) ever received.
- Give the gift of time. One of the things I did every year was have a raffle during our teacher appreciation lunch. The prizes were administrators giving their time in order to give a teacher the gift of time. Prizes were things like covering recess or morning duty, covering a class period with the grand prize being a teacher day off… The teacher would get a day off, and I would teach their class for the day.
These are just a few simple examples. We know you have more!! We can’t wait to hear what you are doing to celebrate your teachers this week. We look forward to seeing your pictures and Tweets in the #LeadLAP hashtag!