Show your fellow teachers you appreciate them with these small — but mighty — gestures.

May 18, 2021

Showing appreciation is foundational to all relationships. It makes us want to collaborate and cooperate with others around us. With the school year finally winding down, demonstrating thankfulness for your colleagues can improve the educational environment and positively impact your relationships. Plus, showing others you appreciate them increases morale and could even improve productivity.

Looking for ways to show your teacher coworkers you appreciate their support before the year ends? Here are our favorite ways to pay it forward to your fellow teachers. 

Offer words of affirmation

Words are everything — and they’re free. Giving compliments, praise, and sharing spoken appreciation can make someone’s day. This might be publicly at the beginning of a staff meeting, which would give the receiver greater visibility. However, this can also happen privately in a note or with direct face-to-face acknowledgement of specific actions.

Ask for advice

One of the greatest ways to show appreciation and respect for others is to ask for advice, which is a compliment in and of itself. This type of meaningful connection allows for an exchange of information, and it’s an opportunity for the advice-giver to share their knowledge. If you end up following their suggestions, circle back with them and let them know how things turned out. This is also a chance for you to reconnect and cultivate the relationship.

Give thoughtful gifts

Gifts don’t have to be big or expensive. A snack (or plant, photo, cup, soda, etc.) can go a long way. Show your appreciation in creative ways by pairing a gift with a quick, “punny” note (here’s some inspiration).

Incorporate others

The more, the merrier. This might include inviting other coworkers, the leadership team, or even better — students — to share how your coworker has had a positive impact on them. Looking for a creative way to combine these messages together? Check out this appreciation garland activity (and no, it’s not just for Thanksgiving!). You can mix it up with different shapes and provide sentence frames to make things even easier for your collaborators. Online resources like Kudoboard and Flipgrid allow you to invite others to collaborate and put together a free, digital corkboard.

Paying-It-Forward Best Practices

Paying it forward isn’t just about what you do to show your appreciation for others. It’s also about how you do it. Here are our tips for growing the impact of your gestures of appreciation.

  • Be specific. Call out something specific about the person to show that you’re paying attention and interested. This will also help you avoid using hyperbolic statements (e.g., “Thanks for all you do!”) that could come off as less meaningful. Try something like, “I like how you incorporated place-based learning into your science lesson about water quality.”
  • Be sincere. Authentic, sincere compliments build trust. How do you do this? Think about why the person’s action or quality resonates so strongly with you. Here’s an example: “I appreciate how you start each day with check-ins for your students.”
  • Make it personal. Demonstrating appreciation is not a one-size-fits-all situation. If you’re giving a compliment, make sure you know something about the person, their personality, or what they like.
  • Don’t put it off. People often want to be recognized for the effort and process that went into producing a specific result. If your fellow teacher did something you want to celebrate, make it a priority to acknowledge their success in a timely manner.

Celebrate Yourself, too

As a teacher, you go above and beyond to support others. But don’t forget to celebrate yourself, too. This year, we’re offering the 16th Annual Teacher Leadership Institute: Where Curiosity and Leadership Unite at no cost to Arizona educators, making it the perfect opportunity for you to re-energize, refuel, and unite with other Arizona teacher leaders.

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