Tod Johnston

Celebrate Teacher Success Early, Often, and with Authenticity

Discussion created by Tod Johnston on Mar 23, 2017

Walk through any given school on any given day and you’ll find examples of student success: bulletin boards overflowing with student work, congratulatory announcements over the intercom, the positive words of teachers slipping out of open doors.


But, in your school, how often are teachers recognized for their achievements?


Just like with students, celebrating the success of staff can help increase engagement. Gallup has identified employee engagement as an important indicator of organizational success across all types of workplaces. According to Gallup:


“Engaged workers stand apart ... because of the discretionary effort they consistently bring to their roles. These employees willingly go the extra mile, work with passion, and feel a profound connection to their company. They are the people who will drive innovation and move your business forward.”


If, as Gallup research indicates, managers are responsible for 70% of their employees’ engagement at work, then school leaders are primarily responsible for how “tuned in” teachers are. In my experience, this holds true. Teaching can seem like working on your own remote island, with your own curriculum and your own students. Having a present administrator who collaborates, offers ideas, and most importantly acknowledges your efforts and achievements can make all the difference.


When leaders celebrate the successes of their staff—preferably those that directly impact student outcomes—they not only motivate teachers to perfect their craft, but they contribute to a positive school culture, one that is committed to improvement.  Here are five ways principals can celebrate the success of teachers, both privately and publicly:


  1. Kick off staff meetings with kudos
  2. Acknowledge and build off strengths after classroom visits
  3. Call out extra efforts in newsletters and social media posts
  4. Send an email after witnessing a teacher’s impact on student(s)
  5. Ask teachers to share their areas of expertise with others


Keep in mind that teachers, like students, can easily discern between false praise and real praise. Leaders should ensure that their feedback is honest, augmented with actual evidence, and founded upon a meaningful relationship. When your successes are acknowledged by someone you know and trust, it is more meaningful.


In his book The Six Secrets to Change, Michael Fullan lists “Love your employees” as his first secret for leaders looking to change the trajectory of their schools.


In your school, how do leaders show their “love” for staff? How are educators recognized for their achievements? Please add your thoughts to the discussion in the comments below.