Teacher Appreciation: Nine Recognition Tips and Ideas

May 2013, Volume 36, Issue 9

What keeps educators excited and motivated?

“Two basic ingredients are recognition and appreciation from colleagues, administrators, parents, students, and the community for a job well done,” writes Diane Hodges in Season It With Fun! A Year of Recognition, Fun, and Celebrations to Enliven Your School.

This week, National Teacher Appreciation Week, and throughout this month, celebrate your staff members’ contributions with these ideas from Season It With Fun.

Formal vs. Informal Praise
People want to be excited about what they do, according to Hodges.

“No one gets up in the morning and says, ‘I think I will just be mediocre today.’ People want to do a good job, and given the proper environment and encouragement, they will,” she writes. “The strongest motivators are not monetary rewards or benefits. People want to be appreciated for what they do. And when their supervisor and colleagues give recognition and appreciation on their behalf, people do their best.”

Check in with yourself about how well you’re doing with formal and informal recognition. Formal recognition is predetermined and given for achievements. Informal recognition is more flexible and spontaneous. How much informal recognition is enough? Hodges suggests giving a “high five” every day: find five people that deserve a compliment—then give one.

Informal praise should also be:

  1. Timely. “Don’t delay praise,” writes Hodges. “Waiting to give recognition at the end of the school year may cause it to lose its impact.”
  2. Sincere. “Giving across-the-board recognition lacks sincerity,” says Hodges.
  3. Specific. Giving each staff member a “You’re Appreciated” mug, for instance, isn’t specific and doesn’t recognize an individual’s contributions. Specify what a staff member worked on and what he or she accomplished instead.
  4. Positive. Deliver a compliment—don’t add a “but” when giving praise.

Beyond formal and informal recognition, the other strategy to motivate your team, according to Hodges, is: fun. Season It With Fun is packed with ideas; here one idea to try this month:

Pass the Bouquet
Obtain a dozen tulips, daffodils, or other spring flowers. Give the bouquet to one staff member with a note that expresses your appreciation for him or her. The recipient keeps one of the flowers, and then passes the bouquet to the person of his or her choice with a new note.

For more ideas, pick up a copy of Season It With Fun in the National Principals Resource Center, or check out these best-sellers:

Meredith Barnett, Associate Editor/Writer, NAESP

Copyright © 2013 National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP’s reprint policy.

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