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Motivating Teachers: Principals Share This Year’s Best Ideas


A positive school climate starts with the teachers, who set the tone for everyone. So, how do you keep teachers upbeat, focused and ready to rock? We caught up with several principals from around the country to find out what successful strategies they used this year to keep their teachers motivated. Here’s what they told us.

Motivating teachers can be tough.

Go Casual!

The middle of winter is notoriously hard for everyone. It seems like the cold, dark and dreary days just won’t end. So, how do you keep teachers upbeat when the weather is like that? Kathy Crowley, principal of Ponderosa Elementary School in Meridian, Idaho, says she used dress-down days to perk up her teachers in mid-winter. “I selected a Wednesday in February and declared it ‘Beat the Winter Blahs Day.’ Teachers wore jeans if they wore other tropical attire. Fresh pineapple was a hit for a morning snack in the staff room.”

Beat Stress with Positivity

Life in school can be stressful, especially around both budget season and testing times. What’s an administrator to do? “Our demographics are changing, and there is more stress on all of us. I take a section of my bulletin each week to thank the staff members who have contributed the last week, I send out ‘You ROCK’ cards to staff members, and we try to have fun together by participating in appreciation lunches, TGIFs and parties at staff members' homes,” says Kim Cavanagh, principal of Mentone Elementary School in Mentone, California.

Give Back

Part of morale-boosting is giving teachers something to look forward to. Part of it is also lifting spirits and giving back to the community at large, so that teachers feel like they are part of something bigger. One strategy that worked in Principal Larry G. Davis’ Clay Hill Elementary School was creating a group to both organize charitable assistance and celebrate good times. “Creating a hospitality committee that not only serves our school, but becomes involved in the charitable assistance of Japan, families at Christmas, tornado victims, and loss of staff loved ones” were all successful strategies among the staff, says Davis. He added that the school celebrates its wonderful staff with a “WOW” board that recognizes those who have gone above and beyond in their duties.

Related resources

Motivating Teachers: A Wire Side Chat with Todd Whitaker
25 Ways to Motivate Teachers

Article by Sarah W. Caron, EducationWorld Social Media Editor
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