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  • Writer's pictureBeccy Fox

The Power of Appreciation

As part of the professional growth and appraisal process, one of the tasks I am undertaking at the end of this school year is a final reflective comment from me to the teachers I have been supervising. This is the final cog in the annual cycle of professional inquiry, walkthroughs, lesson observations, feedback, professional development and collaborative discussions. The process this year has been a rewarding and enjoyable one for me and, I hope, for the teachers. They are a highly skilled, professional bunch of colleagues and having final meetings and writing their reflections has been a positive experience.

The challenge for all this to take place is to find the time. However, it is so important to make sure we do find the time to have these meetings and put in writing our positive thoughts about our colleagues. In a workshop that took place with the academic leadership team in the school, we each read an article about giving feedback and shared sentences that resonated with us. One of the quotes that stood out for me was from an article in Education Week : “Your words carry more weight than you think, and you might just provide the boost your teachers need.” Our words do carry weight. We all want to receive feedback…especially when it is positive! It is worth remembering the impact of appreciation and positive feedback. I often refer to this Amy Rees Anderson quote “A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.” We all feel more motivated when our work is noticed and appreciated. Putting those words of appreciation in writing gives them more weight, gives them longevity and means they can be revisited again and again.

At an EARCOS leadership conference I attended last year, I was lucky enough to attend a lunch with the speaker Fran Prolman. My main take-away from her speech was to remember to keep a “yay me” journal. To keep a record of appreciation, positive feedback, compliments and achievements we have made over the years. Revisiting this “yay me” collection can be motivating when things are not feeling so “yay”. This resonated with me. I have a shoe box of notelets of appreciation and a folder in my email inbox labeled “nice emails”.

It is never too late to share that appreciation. This year, a school I taught in 20 years ago is celebrating its 50th anniversary. They invited alumni to share their memories. What a wonderful surprise to read the following from an interview with a student I taught when she was just 4 years old.

  • Were there any teachers that inspired you to study/do what you are currently doing?

In Foundation 2 I had a teacher called Mrs Fox. I remember her classes like it was yesterday: she taught me how to write my first story, create drawings that ended up on the school magazine and I even ended up on the front cover of a newspaper with her! She was truly an amazing teacher and I feel lucky to have been taught by her.

Feedback from twenty years ago, as powerful as feedback from yesterday.

Definitely one for the “yay me” collection.


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