lachende studentin zeigt daumen hoch

As administrators, we become so caught up with the daily running of the school that we sometimes forget to show our appreciation to the people who really make it happen, the teachers. In recent years, teachers have been feeling increasingly unappreciated. The teaching profession has lost the prestige it once held and the focus has been shifted to the bottom-line, students’ results, inspections and changes in legislation and policies. In 2013, Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Gems Varkey Foundation, inaugurated the Global Teacher Prize in an attempt to recognise the work being done by teachers on a daily basis all over the world and to reward one outstanding teacher.

The Global teacher Prize is an annual one million dollar award from the Gems Varkey Foundation to be awarded to a super-special teacher. One inventive and caring teacher who has made an inspirational impact on his or her students and community is to receive the reward of a lifetime. Teachers currently teaching children in a compulsory setting or between the ages 5-18 are eligible. In my opinion, numerous teachers deserve this prize for the exceptional job they do on a daily basis. How can we, as administrators, reward the teachers we work with?

We all know that when it comes to rewarding our teachers, cash is king, but if unlike the Global Teacher Prize, we don’t have cash to give as a reward, here are my top ten ways in which administrators can let their teachers know that they are appreciated:

Free Periods. This might not be possible in all schools, but whenever possible give teachers a period or two off to just relax, this should be separate from the mandated planning period. The flexibility and time can be worth a lot more than cash.

A thank you note. Saying thanks about something specific may be the ultimate reward. If you do it selectively, yet authentically, a ‘thank you’ note may be given during assembly in a card or delivered to their classroom. The students could be included in this process without the teacher’s knowledge; this could be a wonderful surprise.

Pizza party or pot luck. Lunch with colleagues is fun, breaks up the routine and helps teachers to bond. It’s an all-around win for anyone who likes to eat.

Guess the baby. Reward your team with a break from work by having a “guess the baby” event. Have everyone bring in a photo of themselves when they were a baby, and then have everyone guess who’s who. If they did not bring a baby photo with them to their new country then you could use the baby photos of their children.

School raffle. Give each staff member a ticket as a reward, you decide the criteria. Then have a draw for a prize once per term or even once a year, a lucky teacher can win an attractive prize. Having a school raffle saves buying presents for everyone, especially when there are budget constraints.

Tour time. Who said field trips were only for students? At the end of the year or a term take the teachers for a tour of a place of interest. It’s a cool way to learn more about the country, and it can be fun too.

Principal’s seal. Create a formal letter recognising your teachers’ achievement. Sign it and use the school’s stamp to give the letter something extra. If you really want to do it right, frame it too.

Let them eat cake. Any celebration is that much better when there’s yummy cake.

Pass on the Praise. If you hear a positive remark about a teacher from a student, parents or colleagues, repeat it to that person as soon as possible – perhaps via email. Copying other administrators on such comments is an especially powerful way to help teachers feel appreciated.

Call a teacher to your office to thank them. Since most teachers assume that something is wrong when they are called to the principal’s office, they will be especially pleased to receive your honest gratitude for a job well done.

Teachers should receive feedback more often about what they are doing right, than what they are doing wrong. Emphasising positive behaviour can reinforce them, and in doing so can minimise negative behaviour patterns. Begin showing your teachers you appreciate them today.

By Leisa Simapili