10 Teacher & School Staff Appreciation Ideas to Show You Care
Teacher appreciation day is a time when conscientious school managers and directors across the country are preparing ways to show their thanks to the hardworking people who help make the institution worthwhile.
However, teachers are supported in their efforts by a whole series of other departments and individuals, all of whom are equally worthy of gratitude. Here we’re going to suggest ten school staff appreciation ideas that cover not only the teachers but the rest of the faculty, kitchen, and custodial staff as well.
The Significance and Best Practices of Teacher and Staff Appreciation
Staff appreciation is such a simple concept, yet it’s commonly approached in a tone-deaf and arbitrary manner, leading to the very opposite of the desired effect. The purpose of recognizing your teams should be obvious: they work hard to keep the institution running, and they’re integral to the success of the school as a whole.
This alone is worth recognizing from an ethical standpoint, but from a business and leadership perspective, motivating your teams by showing credit where it’s due is also important. A motivated staff is more productive, more efficient and, above all, sticks around. Staff retention is strongly linked to recognition, and this at least should provide the directors with the incentive to do it right.
If dealing with an entire department it might not be possible to address each person in turn, but a personalized email to the head of the department detailing your thanks and asking for them to pass it on to their team goes a long way.
Gratitude reinforces people’s sense of value in the role they’re fulfilling. Working in a school can be particularly challenging and thankless, so the most important element of your appreciation should be in the honest and meaningful display of thanks.
This doesn’t mean spending enormous amounts of money or HR on the event, but showing real consideration and taking the time to implement something worthwhile to the people you’re appreciating is necessary.
With these fundamentals down, you can run a teacher and staff appreciation event in numerous ways. Take a look at our ten suggestions for inspiration.
Ten School Staff Appreciation Ideas
1. Decorate the Lounge – The staff lounge is a great place to target your appreciation efforts. Have students write out colored post-its of gratitude and stick them on the wall, or color the lampshades and hang up their artwork with messages of thanks can provide a welcome sense of kindness to busy staff.
2. Fulfill Wish Lists – This is less of an event and more of an ongoing process of respect. Suggestion boxes and wish lists are the first steps in showing that staff is valued, but often times this is where that gesture ends. Unfulfilled wish lists and ignored suggestions amount to an insulting lack of concern, so try to work in continual fulfillment to boost engagement.
3. Cook for the Cooks – Appreciation for school staff shouldn’t leave out the cleaners and custodians. Arrange a time when kids and teachers are able to put on a lunch for the kitchen staff and cleaners and combine teamwork with bonding across the different departments. This is another great way to get students involved in the appreciation.
4. Secret Santa – There are several apps and websites that can help you organize a secret Santa drive. The principle is easy, and it doesn’t have to wait for Christmas. Anyone can sign up, and they receive some details of another staff member at random. This may or may not include their real identity, but it should indicate what they might want as a gift. Set a spending limit ($5-$10) is usually plenty, and have everyone buy a present for their secret Santa.
5. Raffle – Similarly, you can have everyone buy raffle tickets for a chance to win a handful of higher-value prizes. This can double up as a fundraiser for another event or something that the school needs to spend on.
6. Group Sports – If the facilities allow for it, you can throw a staff sports day. It’s a good opportunity for the faculty to embarrass themselves, especially if the children are involved, and can culminate with a show of thanks and a free lunch. This works to blow off some steam and break the monotony of work.
7. What are you Grateful For? – Having students write notes of gratitude can be very rewarding. Staff should be able to contribute, too, especially when it comes to the non-teaching staff, whom the students may not be as aware of. Make sure every department gets a hand-written gesture of thanks that they can take home or put on the wall.
8. Role Reversal – This is a light-hearted way to display the hidden efforts that staff put in. If planned well, teachers can manage the phone lines while IT or HR calls in with pretendproblems. Conversely, have some of the administration run a lesson or two while teachers provide examples of some of the challenges they face from their student body.
9. Bring Breakfast – Consider catering for the entire staff once in a while. Don’t just hand out vouchers for the school cafeteria; put the extra effort in and hire a lunch van or catering company to provide something new that accounts for everyone’s dietary needs. This can either be a surprise or a planned event that will show that you’re thinking of your staff.
10. Recognition on the School Site – There should always be space on the school website for recognition, both individual and group or department-based. If a person or team has done well, make sure the school hears about it. And in between achievements, post the occasional thank-you note for the staff as a whole.
Whatever you choose to do for your staff to show your gratitude, make sure you put in the personal touches and make it count. There’s nothing worse than a favor that looks like a chore, so in order to maximize the impact of your staff appreciation, you should genuinely care about what you’re doing.
Teacher and staff appreciation in schools comes in many forms. There are plenty of ways that you can show that you acknowledge the value of your faculty without breaking the bank; all it comes down to is a genuine display of gratitude, a little conscious effort, and that personal touch.
With or without student involvement, throwing appreciation events is a great way to boost morale, promote engagement and encourage teamwork across departments.
If you do choose to involve students, it’s important to keep parents in the loop. Curacubby can help with almost all aspects of planning events like this with an all-in-one solution to enhance communications and streamline management across parent, student, and staff cohorts.