This is a sponsored post. I was compensated in the form of a product, discount, or monetary payment to write this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This post is being sponsored by Sodexo, the worldwide leader in Quality of Life Services.
Alright my lovely readers, you know I never lie to you, and today’s topic is one that has had a real impact on me over the past two years, which means it is about to get really real up in here. I went through a lot of career related changes two years ago. The school where I teach got a new principal and I also started working part-time so I could stay home with my son. To supplement my income, I started taking on a lot more weddings to coordinate and expanded my business. Over the past two years, my teaching position has really shown me what it is like for employees who go unrecognized in the workplace (which I had never experienced before), while on the flip side, my wedding coordinating business has shown me just how rewarding work can be when appreciation is shown for a job well done.
I’m not going to go into tons of details about how much my teaching job has sucked the past two years. Suffice to say that despite the fact that I run a thriving theater program (one that is continually ranked in the top ten in Southern California), that does not equal greatness in the eyes of my administration. I can’t even remember the last time one of them complimented me and the work that I do. And, surprise surprise, I will be leaving teaching and my program at the end of the school year. However, what I really want to talk about today is the good stuff, the positive feedback I have gotten in the past as a teacher and how it impacted my teaching experience.
My first six years of teaching were by no means easy. I started teaching in the heart of the recession and worked my first five years without a single raise. The number of teachers who quit within the first three years (whether in a recession or not) is staggering, and yet I stuck with it, without any financial gain. And I did that because I loved my job. And I loved my job because I felt appreciated. Students are not always great at showing their appreciation for teachers, especially when they are teenagers, as I taught. But when they do show their appreciation, it is so heartfelt and meaningful. I have saved every single letter and card a student has written to me for the past eight years of my career. So yeah, I was making crappy money and had forty students in my classroom and no supplies except for the ones I paid for myself, but I felt like I was good at my job because my students told me that I was.
I had only been teaching for two years before I was asked to join my school’s Professional Development team. Just being asked was recognition in itself and it pushed me to work harder and be a good leader. Recognition can be hard to come by in a school environment. There are no bonuses you can earn, and the one real award (Teacher of the Year) is given to one teacher per year per school. It should probably go to about twenty teachers per year per school. While recognition from the students can be the most meaningful, school administrators can’t rely on kids and teenagers to be providing the encouragement needed to teachers. There are some really awesome ways for teachers to feel appreciated by their peers and I have seen many of them make a real difference in the culture of a school and the motivation of its staff. Many schools do an informal teacher of the month award that is typically passed out at staff meetings. At our school we have Rave Reviews, where anyone on staff can submit a quick thank you to someone who has done something helpful for them. Reviews are then read at the staff meeting and each person gets a small prize like candy or hand sanitizer (teacher essentials). These are small but impactful ways for teachers to feel recognized, which leads to happier teachers. Happier teachers are going to work harder, and that is good for everyone.
As teachers, we are taught that students need to hear more positive feedback than negative if we want them to improve. We are given tricks like the compliment sandwich (one compliment, one piece of constructive criticism, another compliment) to use with our students. The problem comes when administrators don’t use these tools with their teachers. We use them with students because they work, and that is a principle principals (see what I did there?) should keep in mind themselves. Most of the recognition I have seen at schools is teachers appreciating other teachers, and while that is awesome, it is not the same as recognition that comes from a boss.
There are countless studies that show how much more productive happy employees are and the detriments of ignoring hard-working employees. The benefits of employee recognition are undeniable, 81% of employees say they work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. Luckily, there are now services that can help companies and schools, and their leaders, create a working environment that is positive and healthy for its employees. Sodexo is the leading provider of these services and they are committed to a better quality of life for employees. Without the recognition that I feel like I deserve, my quality of life has dropped, and because of that, I will be leaving my job in the next few months. Teachers in particular do not expect much, and I am a great example of how a few compliments could have made a huge difference. I truly hope that with the help of companies like Sodexo, and maybe even this post, there will be a conversation about the recognition of teachers. It’s great when it comes from students and their parents, and even other teachers, but it needs to come from administrators too.