Sometimes the simplest ideas bring the greatest rewards!
Nottoway Elementary School is a Title 1 school in Sedley, Virginia. Principal Susan Melbye is in her second year as lead administrator. She has developed a simple program to praise and encourage her staff, which in one month has grown beyond her expectations.
The outgrowth of this program extends to the rest of her staff and to students, creating a positive school climate.
Parents Praising Teachers
Nottoway’s Positive Teacher Referral program began as a simple social media campaign. On the school’s Facebook page, Melbye asked parents to message or email her with praise for any of Nottoway’s staff members. Parents responded almost immediately, offering up more than 45 positive referrals in less than one month.
Students Praising Teachers
The natural outgrowth of parents recognizing teachers has been students seeking to praise their teachers, as well. Melbye placed a nominations box in the front hall of the school and any student who wishes to can nominate a teacher for recognition.
Teachers Praising Colleagues
The wave of positivity created by the referral program extends to staff members recognizing each other. As the number of acknowledgments began to grow, staff members began to look at the ways their coworkers were positively affecting students’ lives.
Staff Praising Students
Perhaps not surprisingly, students are benefitting from this idea, too. As positive recognition for teachers began to grow, it created a trickle-down effect. Teachers who spot positive behavior from students can nominate them for recognition by Melbye, also. This can come in the form of a certificate, phone call home, or special trinket, as well as recognition of the behavior in front of the student’s peers.
What began as a simple teacher referral program quickly blossomed into a schoolwide appreciation of positivity. Anyone at Nottoway Elementary can receive a positive referral – teachers, support staff, and even students.
One of the reasons this program has been so successful and has grown so quickly is because of the immediacy of the praise. Whenever a positive referral comes to Melbye, she stops what she is doing and turns her attention to recognizing the staff member or student right away.
“October was a difficult month at Nottoway,” says Melbye. “ I wanted to inject some positivity into our school. Starting the positive referral program has helped us to see the hard work and positivity that our staff and students exhibit even in the toughest times.”
Tips for Recognizing Your Teachers
Changing the climate of your school can begin with the simple act of acknowledging your staff for their hard work and dedication. Letting your staff know they are making a difference in the lives of their students is a powerful way to encourage them daily.
- Ask parents to nominate teachers – social media is a terrific way to get the word out
- Allow students to participate – provide a way for students to nominate teachers
- Include all staff members – your cafeteria staff and custodians make a difference too
- Gauge your staff personality – some will want public recognition, some will not
- Give immediate recognition – acknowledge staff as soon as you receive their nomination
- Make it a celebration – give a certificate, take a photo, or whatever may be appropriate
Positivity Creates Positivity
Teaching can sometimes feel like a thankless profession. Creating a teacher referral program can spur staff members to say, “This is why I went into education.” It’s no secret that recognition feels good, and teachers are no exception. Most are extremely grateful to be honored. Teacher recognition programs help to foster connections between school and home, staff and parents, and students and staff. The natural outgrowth of such a program is an improved school climate.
Melbye keeps her nomination forms simple in order to make it easy for parents, students, and staff to use them. Recognition certificates are simple to fill in, as well. The entire program is no cost – it only takes time, effort, and energy. Teachers and students alike attach importance to being identified by the school principal in a positive way.
Download the Positive Referral Template
Taking a teacher referral program to the next level allows you to offer tangible rewards to your staff. PBIS Rewards software add-on, Teacher Rewards, makes it easy to recognize and reward teachers by letting them choose their own rewards from a separate store area within your program.
No matter how you choose to promote positivity in your school, highlighting your staff can be an effective way to impact your school’s climate. Do you have a fun and creative way that you recognize your teachers for the great work they do? We’d love to hear about it.
We also recommend you connect with Susan Melbye on Twitter. She would be a great addition to your PLN!