May 7 marks the beginning of Teacher Appreciation Week, during which teachers across the country will be receiving cards, tweets, and gifts from supportive students, parents, and staff. Teachers work hard to deliver impactful instruction, so principals can and should offer their heartfelt thanks. But there are ways school leaders can go beyond recognition and actively support teachers year-round. Here are four tips from Principal magazine that can help thank teachers with support.

1. Empower your teachers

In “Many Hands Make Light Work,” Peter DeWitt argues that by sharing power and responsibilities with staff, principals, teachers, and students win.

“When I work with leaders, I’m always struck by those who feel they have to know it all. They seem to put undue pressure on themselves. When I was a new principal I did the same thing, and there were many sleepless nights and situations in which I felt a low sense of self-efficacy. Somewhere along the way I realized that the staff I worked with were my greatest resource, and we could come to better answers together than I could alone.”

2. Provide opportunities for growth

In order for schools to retain successful teachers, they have to contribute to those teachers’ success. In “Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Teachers,” John Eller and Sheila Eller underscore the importance of professional development:

“People like to know that they have opportunities to grow and improve at their workplace. In his book Drive, author Daniel Pink says the opportunity to grow and learn is one of the most powerful motivators in the workplace. By offering teachers focused, purposeful, and embedded professional development opportunities, you show them you are interested in their growth.”

3. Treat evaluations as a conversation

It can be tough to evaluate teachers without seeming too harsh or overly critical. In “Set the Stage for Quality Feedback,” Todd Schmidt and Lindsay Stumpenhorst argue that evaluations provide a unique opportunity to learn, both for teachers and principals:

“Teachers know their students best and usually have an explanation or reason for what you observe. Take time to have a conversation and ask why they did what they did, rather than rushing to make suggestions for improvement. Asking questions can help you see whether there is a gap in instructional practices or established deficit patterns within a grade-level or teaching staff, which can be addressed with future professional development.”

4. Appreciate aspiring teachers

When taking on student teachers at your school, don’t overlook the small things that make teacher candidates feel more welcome. In “Strengthen Student Teaching,” Jamilah R. Jor’dan outlines how principals can create a supportive and welcoming environment for those still entering the profession. Here’s just a few:

  • Provide a letter of introduction for the teacher candidate that is sent to families.
  • Create a professional learning community that supports both cooperating teachers and teacher candidates. A formal program within the school community can be beneficial to both.
  • Assemble a welcome packet that includes information about the student population, and school community background information (e.g., the history of the school name, community demographics, and school calendar including holidays, half-days, parent conference dates and meetings). Also include the name and bio of the cooperating teachers.