Mar 25, 2023

Ask BIT: How to Show Appreciation for and Uplift Teachers?

How to show appreciation for teachers is something that needs to extend beyond Teacher Appreciation week.  Okay, I’m sort of jumping right into it, but the point that I want to make is that teachers (and anyone really) deserve to feel appreciated and uplifted every day.  For administrators, focusing on how to show appreciation for teachers is an important piece of the puzzle in supporting them against burnout amidst the many challenges they face in the classroom. 

Today's episode is all about answering an Ask BIT Question that’s all about what principals can do to support their teachers, especially because of the frustration, overwhelm, and challenges they face on a daily basis.  Here's the question:

What can administrators do to uplift teachers in these types of tough teaching challenges? I can see that my staff is giving their all and are so tired, and I strive to show appreciation for those efforts and reward them as I can through resources, though the resources are quite limited, as we're a small private school run as a nonprofit.  What personal things can I do to help energize, support, and value the staff? What actions have the most meaning to teachers? 

This is such a multi-layered question, but before I answer it, what I want to say to the principal who asked it is this: the fact that you're asking this question shows that you care, and that is what teachers want from the administration. They want administrators that are not just managers. They want administrators who care about their well-being, who care about their work environment and work culture, and who are present and visible. I have had administrators on both ends of this spectrum and I can tell you that teachers are better off when they have a leader who is asking questions like this and is always striving to show appreciation.  And to whoever asked this question: by you asking these questions, it already shows that you care.

And with that, let’s dive into the top 10 ways that you can show appreciation to your teachers. I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Head on over to the Facebook community or find me on Instagram and let’s talk about it!. 


10 Ways to Appreciate Teachers 

#1: Establish open and clear communication channels with teachers

So, the first way to show appreciation to teachers is by establishing open and clear communication channels with teachers to understand what their needs and concerns are. Similar to the way you support those closest to you, you start by asking what they need, not come flying in trying to be a superhero pretending to have all the answers, and knowing what everyone needs.  Not all teachers are the same - not all teachers need or want the same things. So unless you ask and create a safe space for teachers to feel comfortable sharing their opinions, needs, or wants, you're not going to know what they need. Whether you’re a new principal or a veteran principal, there’s always a chance to start a new by having conversations with a teacher who's struggling, or even sending out a Google form asking what teachers need. 

Also, I want to stress the importance of not just asking once. There’s value in consistently showing up and checking in on what teachers need and what they are struggling with. 

#2: Provide regular opportunities for professional development.

On to number 2 which is providing regular opportunities for professional development to enhance teacher skills and knowledge. I have to be honest…I have my own opinions about school-wide/district-wide professional development.  Often, these days aren’t necessarily helpful as they are not reflective of the needs of the teachers. This sort of ties back into number one - establishing clear, open communication channels with teachers to understand their needs. Ask teachers:  “What do you need?”; “Who can I bring in?”; “What research could I do?”; “What could our coaches offer you to help you feel better?”; or “What are you struggling with?”  It can be very frustrating to have to sign up for breakout sessions that don’t really apply to your (or your students) situation and needs.  

#3: Create a positive and supportive work environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork

The third way that an administrator can support their teachers is to create a positive and supportive work environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork. What teachers want for themselves is what you want to see happening in a classroom, so lead like you want your teachers to teach. If you want your teachers to create a collaborative and inclusive environment based on a sense of community where they know their students inside and out, then you should expect that of yourself for your teachers.  As a leader, you should work on building relationships with teachers and getting to know them on a human level. If you want teachers to follow you, you have to give them someone that they want to follow.

#4: Offer Constructive feedback and recognize achievements and efforts

Number four, offer constructive feedback and recognize teachers' achievements and efforts. Constructive feedback is crucial for anybody to get better. And I get it, those conversations are hard, but don’t let the difficulty of those conversations get in the way of supporting your teachers.  Don't be afraid to have hard conversations.  Share constructive feedback with teachers who need it about specific things they're doing or not doing. As for recognizing teachers' achievements and efforts, specific, face-to-face recognition can go a long way.

I was just observed yesterday and today, and I can't wait to hear what my principal has to say and what specific feedback she can give me. I love it when she observes me, but that's not the only time she's in my class. She is constantly just quickly doing a walkthrough to check on a student or just to see how things are going. 

And teachers, it’s important to accept constructive feedback by seeking to understand where they're coming from.  We sometimes say that we like to get constructive feedback and that we like to get feedback on what it is that we're doing, but when we actually get it, our body language and our defensiveness shows that we don’t want it. So sit back, listen, let it soak in, and then ask clarifying questions and seek to understand. Most of the time, I truly believe our leaders really do have the best intentions. Sometimes their delivery is a little off or it's not the way we would do it, but they're not us.

So this response is twofold: we teachers have to learn to accept constructive feedback and so do principles. Principles, don't be afraid to ask for constructive feedback on how you're leading, and don't be afraid to get honest answers. And again, this is going to come back to creating a safe space for teachers to be honest. 

#5: Provide necessary resources and tools to facilitate teaching and learning

Next is to provide the necessary resources and tools to facilitate teaching and learning. Now, here's something I have to say to the administrator who asked this question: resources are limited, so this is where the things that you say and the things that you do are going to weigh a lot heavier than the things that you purchase for your teachers. 

If the resource teachers are asking for is truly unavailable and you’ve done the work to create a collaborative environment, you can sit with your teachers and say: Hey, I'm really sorry, I can't get this specific resource. But let's come together and let's see if we can find it cheaper somewhere, or let's see if we could find a place to get it donated, or let's see if there's a way that we could create it together. Be an open resource yourself.

#6: Encourage and support innovative teaching strategies and techniques 

The sixth thing you can do is encourage and support innovative teaching strategies, and techniques. I get it. We have a curriculum we need to follow, but a lot of times the curriculum doesn’t meet the needs of our students.  It is not what's best for kids. Teachers know the kids in their class better than anybody. So if they have an innovative idea or strategy, let them try it if it’s what’s best for kids. Let them do the thing that is showing results and helping students learn by supporting that innovation.  

And if you have questions about what you see them doing, definitely have a constructive conversation about it. Ask questions and seek to understand what's happening in that teacher's classroom. And if you see a teacher trying new things, and maybe from your perspective, it doesn't seem to be going well, maybe it's time for a constructive conversation.

#7: Advocate for fair compensation and benefits

Let's move on to number seven: advocate for fair compensation and benefits for teachers. When you can let your voice be heard, advocate if you feel like your teachers don't have the resources that they need to support their students. Advocate for your teachers if they are dealing with behaviors from students that are keeping them from being able to do their job. Advocate be there for them. A lot of times, your voice will speak a lot louder than theirs. And that, again, comes from having clear lines of communication and understanding the needs and concerns of your teachers. Don't be afraid to speak up for your teachers, we need as many voices as we can. 

#8: Promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement 

The next one is to promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement. This kind of goes back number two and thinking about professional development.. Teachers don't have to be sitting in a room together to get the professional development that they need. You can create a culture of continuous learning and improvement by modeling that yourself by sharing with your staff something that you've learned. Also, advocate for your teachers to have the time to do the learning that they need so that they can feel more successful. 

#9: Respect and value teachers’ opinions and expertise

Number nine, respect and value teachers' opinions and expertise. I feel like I've already kind of touched on this throughout this entire list of things that you can do to support your teachers, but it’s important to respect and value teachers' opinions and expertise.  You may not always agree with it, and it might be scary because it goes against what you have been told to do. But ask questions and seek to understand because perhaps it’s your mind that needs to be changed, or maybe it’s their mind that needs to be changed. This goes both ways. We're both trying to do what's best for kids, and in order to do that, we also need to do what's best for teachers and let them know that they do have a voice and that their opinion is respected. 

#10: Develop and implement policies that prioritize the well-being of teachers and students. 

And finally, number 10 (I like this one a lot) develop and implement policies that prioritize the well-being of teachers and students, alike. Teachers cannot care for students if they are not cared for by their administration and their district and their communities. That all comes from district-level conversations about what it is that you're going to do to prioritize the well-being of teachers. We know that teachers aren't paid enough. We know also know that schools don't have an unlimited amount of funds. But what we can do to protect teachers well being is we can protect their time and we can protect what it is that they were being asked to do during a school day.  Implementing policies that prioritize the well-being of teachers such as making sure they're able to use the bathroom, they're able to have time to eat lunch, that they have adequate time to plan and prep and grade and do all the things that teachers have to do in order to make sure that their students are successful is important.


So there you have it, 10 things that administration can do to support their teachers. These things are just kind of this is the tip of the iceberg. And like I've said many times, all of these things are intertwined together, and it all starts with administrators. It all starts with you being willing to be open to the conversations that are hard and open to expanding your perspective and open to being and doing better.  



  1. Create and maintain open and collaborative communication systems. Make yourself visible and ask for feedback on how they are doing and what they need.
  2. Consider offing PD that directly fulfills a need that your teachers have. Survey teachers about the professional development they’d like to see and/or feel that’s needed.
  3. Create ways to regularly recognize and celebrate you’re teacher’s achievements and wins.






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