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Great ways to celebrate teachers all year long

Host a "Thank You Breakfast" during Teacher Appreciation Week, or during another time of the year when they least expect and most need it.

Gather students of a grade level or instructional team in the gym for a volleyball tournament. The principal and assistant principal and other available support staff, organize and monitor the tournament while teachers spend time socializing over a specially planned meal or work together to accomplish other planning tasks.

Recognize special contributions by putting "Cookie Coupons" in teachers' mailboxes. Arrange with the cafeteria for teachers to redeem those coupons for a special treat.

Whenever you are able, send a personally written -- preferably, handwritten -- note of thanks or appreciation to teachers "caught" caring or who pulled off terrific classroom projects. Send at least a dozen of those notes each week. Keep a copy for the teacher's file; later in the school year you will be able to draw on those positive moments as you compose teachers' evaluations.

Plan to take over a class for a special read-aloud time that will give teachers an extra break. You might read a favorite book and do a follow-up activity; or you might make special arrangements with a teacher to read something connected to the classroom curriculum. Besides offering a brief mental-health break for teachers, this is a great way for principals to get to know students and for students to see the principal in a different light.

Provide doughnuts in the morning -- for no special reason at all other than to say "Thank you."

Be on the lookout for special gifts that relate to teachers' special interests. Dollar stores and other budget outlets can be great places to find those kinds of things--for example, a small birdhouse for a teacher who loves bird watching, a picture frame for a teacher with school-age children, a book of crossword puzzles for the puzzle fan on your staff.

Take a teacher's duty as a reward for a special contribution.

Call for a "Jeans Day." All teachers can dress down on that day. Or make this a special reward for teachers who have gone above-and-beyond; have stickers printed that say "I earned this Jeans Day." They can wear the sticker on whatever "Jeans Day" they choose.

At each faculty meeting, hold a lottery drawing for a "free" two-hour break during which time you will cover a teacher's class. The break can be redeemed at any time, but it needs to be arranged at least a week in advance.

Give gift certificates to teachers who have perfect attendance each quarter. You might offer choices such as a certificate for a manicure, a CD, a movie or a dinner.

Each month, hold a party to recognize staff members who will celebrate birthdays that month.

Provide a duty-free week during scheduled state-test times. Arrange to have PTA parents or others cover those duties.

Establish a bulletin board on which to spotlight a different teacher(s) each month.

Plan a "Pamper Day." Set aside a space and bring in a nail technician to do teachers' nails or to give hand massages with hot lotions. Put out scented potpourri, the silver punchbowl, and special cookies. Play relaxing music. Arrange to have each teacher's class covered for 30 minutes so they can visit the Pamper Room.

Meet outside of school over lunch with teachers of each grade level or with teaching teams. Provide coverage so you can have a few laughs and get to learn more about the teachers and their concerns.

Purchase fresh flowers for teachers' desks during parent-teacher conference week.

Offer to baby-sit a teacher's child while that teacher does some special, above-and-beyond activity for students or the school.

Put in teachers' mailboxes your personal list of "25 Things That Make [Your School Name] Great!"

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