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Discussing How to
Keep Teachers Motivated


In many schools, the administrative team tries to do lots of special things for the entire staff. "We try to pretend we are at IBM -- we treat everyone as a professional and we celebrate whenever we can. The material things are nice, but I have a motto that I try to live by each day: My job as principal is to make the teacher's job easier, better, so they can teach and students can learn." (Tony Pallija)

With all teachers have to do, motivation is the key to keeping them focused and feeling worthy. Principal Larry Davis reports that at his school each month two teachers are awarded the "Golden Apple" award for their above-and-beyond efforts. The neat thing about the Golden Apple is that the teachers select its recipients. Each of the winners of this month's Golden Apples are responsible for passing on their awards to another worthy teacher at next month's faculty meeting.

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Sometimes little things can mean a lot. What special little things do you do to show appreciation for the teachers who work for you? Click to join the conversation. Share an idea so others might add to their teacher-appreciation repertoires.

Many principals try to leave a little extra money in the budget to recognize outstanding efforts with small personal gifts such as prepaid phone cards or store gift certificates. For example, one principal recently gave a phone card to a teacher who stepped in without being asked -- because the principal was out of the building -- and took over an after-school program for a teacher who was stuck in a dentist's chair having a tooth pulled.

Encourage teachers to seek out professional development courses or workshops. Approve all reasonable requests. Then get extra mileage out of those sessions: Set aside time during each staff meeting, or arrange a special professional development day, so teachers can share with their peers the main ideas they learned from each session they attended.

Once a semester, or once a quarter, provide all staff members with a come-late-to-work-no-questions-asked form. (Or give that form to staff members who logged one or no absences in the most recent quarter.) That form represents two hours of time that can be taken at the start or end of the school day for any reason -- from sleeping in to getting a head start on the weekend. The only catch is that the form must be "cashed in" in advance so arrangements can be made to free an administrator or somebody else to cover the staff member's responsibilities. Little things like this cost no money and demonstrate that administrators are willing to go the extra mile for the folks who work for them.

Take Five more to read this entire article from Education World's "Principal Files" series:
"25 Ways to Motivate Teachers"
(Education World -- November 19, 2002)