I have worked in two school districts where Teacher Appreciation Week was a big event. At one school, the PTA had parents sign up to fix us baskets for Christmas and to give us stuff for Teacher Appreciation Week. I know that I truly appreciated all the thought and hard work that went into this. At one school, we were asked to fill out a questionnaire at the beginning of the school year about our likes, dislikes, collections, etc. for parents to use for Christmas and Teacher Appreciation Week. Then parents were asked to pick a teacher to “adopt.” I felt that this started off the year with a wonderful tone. It said to me that these parents already appreciated me and I hope that I could live up to their expectations. When I received my gifts, I always felt that some parent went way beyond what they should have when I got them.
Then I realized that I needed to bestow these same good feelings on to my students. I needed to let them know how much I appreciated them. I really do. I guess I love teaching so much that without my students, I wouldn’t be a teacher. I needed them as much as they needed me!
· That they came to school.
· That they needed me.
· That sometimes they don’t know as much as they think they do.
· That they make me feel good.
· That I learned a lot from them too.
· They made me look at the funny side of things when I forgot to do that.
· That they have a different perspective than I do.
· That after a weekend or holiday, they seemed to be glad to see me.
How did I show my students that I appreciate them?
I told them often that I appreciate them. Of course they rolled their eyes. I mean, they are teenagers! But I know that they were uncomfortable with this and weren’t used to hearing an adult tell them this. They didn’t know how to handle this or what to say. Maybe with practice, they would get better at this.
I told them often why I appreciated them so much. If they don’t know why, how can they go on repeating the behaviors that I like? In fact, many of them were not even aware that their behavior may have had an impact on me.
I called their parents/guardians and told them how much I appreciated them and why. Too many of these parents/guardians only hear the negatives about their child. I felt like I had been giving them a Christmas present!
At the end of the year, I had a Student Appreciation Lunch at my house on a Saturday. In fact, I mentioned this at the beginning of the school year and many of my students did not think it would really happen. All of my students and their parents were invited. I had a simple lunch of hot dogs, chips, cookies, and a cake for everyone. I also invited former students and their parents (yes, I still keep in touch with many of them!). Then I had an awards ceremony. All of the students got a certificate praising them about something special that they did during the school year. After lunch, we played croquet in my back yard (which all of my students learned to do about a month before the lunch). It was a wonderful day and my former students always told me that this was the highlight of the year.
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'Teacher appreciation'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28266185@N03/4167006465 by: Rebecca Johnston