Everyone loves a good celebration. The fanfare, food, high-fives and hugs, feeling appreciated, kind words, smiling, reflecting…all are side effects of a good party. And I LOVE a good party.
Here’s the deal, you can’t celebrate what you don’t know! If you don’t know it’s someone’s birthday, you can’t wish them “Happy Birthday!” In order to celebrate small victories with your faculty, department, or team, you have to know your people and the “pulse” of the building like you do your bestie’s birthday and favorite snack. You have to talk to them, be in touch, know what kind of learning is taking place, and what goals have been set. Here’s the thing, something you may not consider to be a “big deal” or celebration worthy might be HUGE to the other person.
Teachers, by nature, are typically a humble group. They rock. They work hard. They deserve more recognition than they receive, which is an understatement. The thing is, the best teachers won’t take their precious time to tell you why they are the “Lady Gaga of Teaching” (credit goes to some kid in @thenerdyteacher’s class for that euphemism) because that’s not why they teach. They teach because it’s about the kids.
So, how can you start celebrating the small victories in your division, school, or PLN?
First and foremost, you have to take the time to get to know your people! What do they like? What are their strengths/weaknesses? There is no way you can do this by pretending to care. You really do have to care about them and their professional growth. If your excuse includes: who has time? I have a horrible memory! How am I ever to remember all those insignificant details?! Figure out a way to deal with it. Use your phone for reminders, have a document dedicated to each of your staff members, keep a little black book. It really doesn’t matter what system you put in place as long as it works for you.
What are some simple ways that you can celebrate even the smallest of victories?
- High fives. Lots of high fives.
- Spread positive rumors. Speak your appreciation for your school family out loud. Find the good in all of them. Then make a point to tell them how you feel. I also find it equally as flattering to tell others about their awesomeness. The idea is to spread “positive rumors” about your folks. If I want want someone to know I appreciate them, I tell them. But I also tell their colleagues. Think about applying the concept of “spreading rumors” to your teammates.
- Use a survey to find out about favorite snacks/treats and use it to your advantage! Did Ms. Wilson’s class do a fantastic job at the regional band competition? Tell her with chocolate. And a real coke. For under $2, you have just shown your appreciation. And given chocolate to Ms. Wilson.
- Surprise them with a serenade from the music/arts department– singing chorus students, fiddle players, the drum line, whoever…! Have the culinary arts department make them the biggest cookie in the batch. Think about using the resources you have available in the building to make the teachers’ small victory celebration a fun one.
- Scratchers. I love one dollar lottery scratchers. I hate that the lottery money in Virginia isn’t going into education as originally designed but I love to get one in birthday cards or Christmas stockings. Last winter break, I gave each member of my team a card with lottery tickets and told them if they won the “top prize” the only deal was they couldn’t leave me. Good news! They didn’t leave me! Plus, I spent $9.25 for four cards from the dollar tree and four lottery tickets. I also made sure to hand write each of them a note of appreciation.
Here’s the most important part…..in order to celebrate small victories you also have to hold yourself and your school family accountable for what you consider to be non-negotiables.
If you are able to celebrate even the smallest victories, while holding the school “fam” to high standards- CONGRATS, you are a morale boosting rockstar!
What ways do you boost morale in your work family? Don’t keep it to yourself, share!