Earlier this month, the Nation marked Teacher Appreciation Week. This special week every year couldn’t come at a more perfect time- the final month of the school year when we’re wrapping things up, starting to grow a little weary, and when the students’ excitement about summer break is starting to become noticeable!
In fact, during this week, I began inwardly questioning whether students were enjoying my classes anymore- – when all-of-a-sudden I received a “day-changing” email. Our amazing middle school advisor worked alongside students to produce a touching video for teachers. With her help, students posted some of the things they appreciated about a specific teacher on the whiteboard during homeroom to later be shared. Our advisor put together a video with each teacher’s slide. After watching this heartfelt video, I was moved to tears.
Throughout the week, there were other great emails, videos, and even prizes from various teams in our organization. It all meant so much and I really appreciate not only the thoughts behind this touching tribute, but the time taken during busy schedules just to let me know students care and notice my hard work. Then it occurred to me… Am I doing that enough with my students? Receiving praise all week made me wonder if I was giving enough myself. The answer was probably not. I, like the students, was ready for a break. I felt like I was saying “good job”, but nothing deeper.
So, I decided to have a “Student Appreciation Week” that only I knew about. I bombarded the students with praise. I decided to send personal emails and shout outs all week. What are students doing well? Lots, and it was high time I let them know! I sent emails about being positive, have no missing assignments, exhibiting a perfect attendance record, and getting an A on a big test. I gave feedback during live class and thanked the students for their hard work. I picked something to brag on each class as a whole too: class with the best attendance, class with the highest assessment scores, class with the highest grades overall, etc. I even let them do a shout-out slide in live class to say something good about another person. They loved it! I loved it too and plan to keep it up the rest of the year.
What did I learn from Teacher Appreciation Week? I was shown through the kindness of colleagues, as well as my students, the power of a kind words and appreciation. Not only did Teacher Appreciation Week turn my end-of-the-year funk into a motivation to finish the year strong. It has also made the end-of-year task less daunting and more exciting. You can find something good in every single student and person… why not share that with them? I am excited at the prospect of teaching my students this along with science in the future. I loved getting noticed, but it truly is better to give than receive…even appreciation!
Ashley Fryer is a Teacher Ambassador and teaches science and health at Insight School of Kansas and Kansas Virtual Academy.