5 Questions to Consider

Do we listen to the educators’ expressed needs?

Do we design professional learning experiences to be simple, or complex?

Will the design challenge the learners’ expectations?

Will it create a memory, meaning, or momentum?

Will the teachers be able to apply what they’ve  learned?

How have these questions been addressed in your school?

Share your responses.

Read one another’s posts.

Look for ways to help new members of your grade-level team.

Provide supportPromote excellencePrepare teachers for success.


10 Easy Ways To Recognize Teachers during the First Weeks of School Year

“Building a positive and energized work force . . . takes attitude and action.”
– John O’Brien, VP if BI Worldwide Employee Performance Group

1. Write a welcome note to each teacher that is new to our school and mail it to their home address a few days before the start of workshop.
2. Each day, ask at least one of the teachers new to your school what went well for them that day.
3. Recognize the simple things as well as the complicated. It’s just as important to recognize a teacher for quickly learning a task, as it is to recognize a long-term teacher for being a great leader.
4. Use an employee’s name when you speak with them. Calling a person by name is one of the most basic ways to show that you respect them as an individual.
5. Each time you compliment a teacher, be specific. Then, challenge them to take it a little further. This will help affirm past efforts and encourage future investment.
6. Sometimes the best recognition you can give is to simply listen. Ask teachers new to your school for feedback.
7. Show teachers how much you respect them by sharing key organizational measurements with them on a regular basis. Employees should know how their work impacts student success.
8. Acknowledge employment anniversaries every year. Make sure teachers know you value their loyalty.
9. When you implement a suggestion made by a teacher, make sure to let their colleagues know where the great idea came from.
10. Help your teachers develop professionally. Suggest specific district training classes, additional education, and books to read or seminars they might attend to build their skills.

Adapted from 24 Fast and Fun Ways to Recognize Employees by John O’Brien, VP if BI Worldwide Employee Performance Group


And, yet, I still don’t know her name.

She greeted her guests by name and with a smile.

She knew their orders before they did.

She seemed to know ours, too.

And, yet, I still don’t know her name.

When she learned our names, she used them.

Every interaction was personal.

Regulars talked to us cause she used our name.

And, yet, I still don’t know her name.

We were part of the tribe because of her attention.

She was the catalyst for conversations across tables.

She is the reason for our soon-to-be return visit.

And, yet, I still don’t know her name.


Too often I forget to introduce myself, look at their name-tag, or thank them directly.

As we enter and exit each others lives through retail and service relationships, we can make it personal.

We can take a leap of faith and share of ourselves our most unique possession, our name.

I know Rosie the butcher at the grocery store. She helps me decide which cuts to use, how to prepare them, and portion sizes.

She mentors me. Coaches me. Supports my learning.

My students felt connected to their classroom because I had placed their name on a desk, locker, attendance chart, …

They felt personally engaged form the moment they walked in.

Teachers-in-transition can benefit from this name-game, as well.

Having their classroom door sign up prior to their arrival will help them feel welcomed.

Placing a handwritten card in an envelop with their name on it on top of the stack of curriculum materials shows them someone was thinking about them before they even walked in the building.

We all have a name.

We all have a need to be recognized.

When you stop by classrooms to wish your colleagues a wonderful start to the school year, be sure to use their name.

Supporting New Team Members

I walked into the school office expecting to be given a guided tour of the campus, shown my classroom, and the location of the roll paper to make some bulletin boards. What I received was a set of keys and a firm gesture pointing to a blue door across the courtyard. “That’s your room. There.”, is all he said. Cued up below the louvered windows waiting to go into the blue door were two dozen first graders. Most of them were as new to schooling as I was to teaching, they’d never done it. My first day on the job was my first day teaching. Trial by fire? Trial by volcanic-hurricane inferno is a more apt descriptive.

The first day of school is not the sole possession of children. Each school year teachers new to the profession and new to a district, school, or grade-level, have to enter a new culture. As Ross McCammon put it, they must “[demystify] the tribe”. Having been the new-guy seven times in my nineteen years as an educator, I can validate McCammon’s description. Although I had the distinct pleasure of reading seven distinct policy and procedure manuals, filling out seven W-2s, 3s, and 4s, and wrote my name and address a bazillion times, I seldom was mentored as to the dynamics of the immediate school or grade-level to which I was assigned.

In his article, “Everyone, say hi to Kevin”, McCammon brings this support down to the first day. He wrote, “We forget that an office [or school] is a tribe, and encountering that tribe for the first time is highly unsettling. You don’t speak the language. You don’t know the customs.” The article began by addressing the first hour of a new employee’s experience. He suggested providing “an emblem of preparation and care” to initiate the process. For a new teacher this may look like a classroom prepared for the new teacher void of all the stuff the previous teachers left behind (I did this six times. What? I thought the next teacher could use twenty pounds of tongue-depressors!) Hand-written welcome note from team members and administration would personalize the transition, as well. Let’s do one better and greet the new team member at the front t door of the school and escort them though the process and into their well-groomed and welcoming classroom.

Kevin Quinley tells to “make a fuss” and to “roll out the red carpet”. In building a cohesive team, start at the beginning. Make a new teacher’s first day supportive. Don’t just point them in the right direction (or to the blue door across the courtyard). Give them direction through a deliberate planning of their first day experience.

Recognize. Empathize. Acknowledge.

Here we are at the beginning of another school year.

Students have gathered their supplies. The kids walk into their schools to drop off their goodies and moan about being back at school.

Yet, ten steps in they see a friend.

They scream one another’s name, run, with arms flailing, down the hall to greet one another for the first time in ten weeks!

Well, that scenario described my middle school daughter’s greeting.

My high school aged son, when seeing a classmate, may just raise his eyebrows and say, “Hey.”

Either way, they’ll express emotion albeit with varying degrees of intensity.

School is not just about the book learin’.

The kids reconnect with friends, acquaintances, and future “besties”.

School is social experience.

What of the growned-ups?

Classrooms have been organized and bulletin boards “bulletined”.

Teachers are anxious about the mix of kids they will get.

They already begin to worry about how many can tie their own shoes, which ones will need emotional support, or if they’ll even graduate.

All levels of educators worry about their kiddos.

Administrators at school sites and district offices have concerns, too.

They worry about how many teachers can tie their own shoes, which ones will need emotional support, …

The shoe-tying thing is not true (in most cases), but the reality is that all the players in the educational experience are anxious, have concerns for themselves and others, and will need the support of those around them.

Recognize. Empathize. Acknowledge. 

Recognize the possibility that fear of the unknown resides in your students, staff, and yourself.

Empathize with the concerns of others.

Acknowledge their discomfort with a smile, a note on their desk, or a corny high-five.

The next few weeks are full of anticipation accompanied by a host of emotions.

Be aware of the impact those emotions may have on the behavior of your students, colleagues, and administrators.

Try to see it from their point of view.

Connect with them on a level that you are comfortable with.

School is a social experience.

Recognize. Empathize. Acknowledge.