I have often said that your attitude is like glitter: good or bad once it’s somewhere it’s everywhere. Your work, your passion, and your love that you spread to your co-workers filters down to many more students than just those in your classroom. Your relationship with your colleagues contributes to the atmosphere in which all students can learn. So when it comes to the staff appreciation weeks that highlight the back half of the school year, the pressure is on to show your great attitude toward others effectively. And while these acts should be thoughtful, they do not have to be difficult. Here are a few pointers to consider when looking at celebrating others.
1. Keep it simple. The more grandiose the celebration gets in your mind, the less likely you will be able to follow through and the less likely you will want to make an effort in the future. A heartfelt message on a card or strategically placed sticky note can go a long way. If you really want to go bigger then recruit a team, divide, and conquer.
2. If possible, make it public. A cheer is heard much more clearly when coming from an entire squad rather than just one voice on the sideline. When emailing a colleague to thank them for their great work, it goes much further when you cc their corresponding team and administrator. When calling out the great performance of the classified staff, it means so much more when it’s done at a staff meeting. And when thanking the school nurse for their attention to detail, it gets much better mileage when done as a part of the morning announcements.
3. If you can, make it delicious. Most grocery store bakeries can do wonders with a standard pastry, a good idea, and a few minutes. Donuts, brownies, cake, and cookies are all nice, but they become extra special with just a touch of individualization.
4. Shapes and symbols matter. A handful of surprise chocolates sounds great, but it goes much further when they are arranged on a desk in the shape of a heart or smiley face. Just last year I had emailed a teacher after an observation (cc’ing her principal of course) and celebrated her work as something truly unbelievable by likening her to the Loch Ness Monster. She was so thrilled by my quirky email she literally printed and framed it and insisted on referring to herself as “Nessy” for the rest of the year.
5. Be spontaneous. Yes, still pay attention to the specific staff appreciation weeks as they approach. But celebrating staff at a time when they completely do not expect it will give you bonus points for whatever you do. It communicates to the targeted audience that you celebrate them not because you have to but because you want to.
Taking the time to spread the good glitter to those around you can often be criticized as small in comparison to the large tasks that need to be accomplished in a day around the schoolhouse. But often times it’s the small things in life that make the big things worth doing. Taking time to celebrate each other is a small thing, and because of that, it’s a big thing.