This Teacher Appreciation Week take a look at your institution’s culture.
Whether you are the head of your institution or the head of your department, showing gratitude and thanks to your staff for their hard work should be an integral part of your institution’s culture. Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week could seem a little on-the-nose to staff who feel undervalued and over-worked. Instead, use this week as a good time to take stock of whether you are demonstrating your appreciation on a regular basis.
There are myriads of ways in which you can support your staff throughout the school year. Regular staff reviews and CPD support and encouragement should be mandatory. A safe, welcoming, and diverse institution are qualities that are just as important for the well-being and morale of your staff as it is for your students. Your teachers are the heart of your institution. How they feel in their work will have a direct impact not only on your institution’s culture and growth but also affect student experience and outcomes.
The list below details how to embed support within your institution’s culture as well as fun activities and gestures you can make this week and year-round, but ultimately, the most important thing you can do as a leader is to thank your staff on a personal level on a regular basis, face-to-face.
Be available to listen to your teachers’ perspectives and concerns. It will be impossible to act on every bit of feedback but making the time to genuinely hear people out can make all the difference to them feeling valued.
2. Team-building days.
It is of paramount importance your staff feel they are part of a team who all have the same passion to provide quality education. Your school, college, or university will have a mission statement. Is everyone a part of that mission? Do you tell your teachers that you couldn’t possibly do it without them?
3. Internationalisation and extra support for international staff.
Internationalisation should not be about how many international students, (or staff) you have, or how many MoU’s have been signed with partner institutions globally. The focus of your internationalisation efforts should be on your culture. How do you support the international members of your team? Do you ensure that they are valued in the same way, that they interact with their peers, are their differences celebrated? Provide international opportunities (i.e. training or attendance of international conferences) for your local teachers – encourage them to learn new ways of thinking, help them to better understand the perspectives of their international students. If you concentrate on valuing different cultures, ways of thinking and approaches, and celebrate diversity, you will find that your staff, students, and your institution’s internationalisation goals will all benefit.
4. Mind their heads.
Physical health is important but often physical sickness is manifested by mental stresses and illness. We live in a strange world where teachers’ perspectives and expertise are often undervalued and workload is ever increasing, yet teachers are also taking on additional pastoral support and activities due to cuts in funding. Ensure you have staff support structures in place to look after their mental health and well-being. Provide relaxation spaces, well-being activities and, above all, the opportunity for people to talk.
5. Make regular gestures.
Could you reward your staff with an extra days holiday on their birthday? How about making a morning coffee/tea (caffeine optional!) round or buy some coffee vouchers? (Extra points if you support a local business.) Send them a heartfelt hand-written note of gratitude. Offer your support and time – lead by example; the next time a teacher is running a fundraising activity, buying school supplies out of their own pocket, or are sat marking papers at their desk well after the end of the school day – ask if you can help. Ask yourself are you giving as much to your teachers that your teachers are giving to you.
Ultimately a quality culture is about people and attitudes. To be a quality education provider your teachers must feel supported in giving their all – you must lead the way by example. This Teacher Appreciation Week make a promise to yourself, and your staff, that this week will set the example for the year.
Please tag us in your teacher appreciation activities – we would love to see, and share, all our institution’s love for their teachers! #TeacherAppreciationWeek #LoveOurTeachers