Teachers are the backbone of every school. They work tirelessly to ensure their students are learning and growing. In addition to their teaching duties, teachers often must take on a variety of other tasks, such as grading papers, preparing lessons, and attending meetings (just to name a few). We all understand it’s important for administrators to celebrate teachers and show their appreciation for all they do. Here are five of our favorite ways to recognize others:

1. Publicly acknowledge teachers’ accomplishments.
Celebrate teachers by publicly acknowledging their accomplishments. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as writing a letter of praise, giving a shout-out at a staff meeting, or posting a thank-you note on the school website. I liked giving “Teacher Shout-Outs” on social media. I’d share a fun fact and a few of their favorites in the post. Not only did this publicly praise teachers, but it also showed our community the human side of these superheroes. Publicly acknowledging teachers’ accomplishments helps to boost their morale and reminds them their work is valued.

2. Provide opportunities for professional development.
Celebrate teachers by providing them with opportunities for professional development. This can help teachers improve their skills and stay current on the latest teaching trends. Professional development opportunities include attending conferences, taking online courses, or working with mentors. You should always look for ways to model effective strategies your staff can use in their classroom. Our school was working hard on Universal Design for Learning and providing student choice, so I asked the staff to choose a PD book that fit their specific need without engaging in a formal book study. I found the buy-in for this was way more than any forced book study we ever had! Even though this idea costs money, we’ve found there are often many opportunities for grants.

3. Create a positive work environment.
Create a positive work environment by supporting teachers and making them feel valued. This can be done by providing teachers with the resources they need to be successful, such as adequate classroom space, supplies, and technology. We understand that sometimes your budgets just don’t allow that investment right now. That’s okay! You can also create a positive work environment by being open to feedback, listening to teachers’ concerns, and resolving conflicts quickly and fairly. This costs you nothing!

4. Celebrate birthdays and special occasions.
Celebrate teachers’ birthdays and other special occasions by sending a card, bringing in a cake, or simply saying a few words of appreciation. This shows teachers you care about them and appreciate their work. Getting out of your office and spending time connecting with your team allows you an extra opportunity to hear about the monumental moments happening in their lives outside of work! Each year I’d ask the staff to fill out a “Favorites List” at the beginning of the year. Then each Sunday, I’d grab the favorite candy bars for that week’s birthdays, write each staff member a personal birthday note and have it waiting on their desk when they arrived on their special day.

5. Give teachers time off.
Celebrate teachers by giving them time off. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as providing teachers with a paid day off, allowing them to take a personal day, or something as simple as giving them a longer lunch break. Whenever we had a “new initiative” or big grade level task at hand, I would coordinate a schedule with our Student Focus Team (AP, counselor, and SRO) and together we would cover the four classes in each grade for an additional hour or two past that grade level’s prep time. This additional time inside the school day was very appreciated by our teachers and it gave our Student Focus Team more time with students! Giving teachers time off helps them to recharge and return to work refreshed and ready to teach.

The “work” of showing appreciation is never finished. We all struggle with doubt and feeling like we’re not doing enough. By starting with these five tips, you can begin to show your appreciation for teachers and create a positive work environment that is conducive to learning, retains more staff, and overall is a place people want to come to every day.


Todd Nesloney is TEPSA’s Director of Culture and Strategic Leadership. He is an award-winning educator, author and international speaker.

Ross Braun is a former elementary principal who is passionate about supporting schools and leaders to ensure every child has a safe, loving and engaging learning environment. Ross is now the VP of Positive Education at Spring, Texas-based, School Life.

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 6000 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

© Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

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