I'm drafting this on Monday night after our first day of preplanning at school. Today at lunch, our PTO had the nicest "teacher appreciation" luncheon. It was so nice. I snapped quite a few photos and thought I'd share with you what they did and what I liked about it.
We all need to be reminded. The PTO had large watering cans with zinnias and flowers from the yards of the PTO members. Orange and white are our school colors so the green was accented with white and orange. It was gorgeous. Their quote was perfect:
"A teacher's like a gardener and this is so you'll know we surely do appreciate how you help the children grow. Thanks for all you do."
That was on a wooden stick inside the watering can with the flowers.
Teacher Wish Lists and Likes
Underneath our boxed lunches we had a piece of paper for our wish lists and likes. This list is one that PTO puts in a binder in the office. Things like "what is your favorite soda" and "what is your favorite snack" or "what is one simple thing you do to pamper yourself." We wrote this with the pen beside it which had our name "Westwood Wildcats" emblazoned on the side.
On our birthdays, a person on the PTO is responsible to make a basket of our "likes." Because each one is personal, it makes us feel so loved. (The PTO even had a blizzard day and had students help them deliver each teacher's favorite DQ blizzard back in the spring. WE LOVED IT.)
The Theme of the Year
Our Board of Directors has adopted a vision statement for the year: "Moving Forward." They want all of us to set goals for how we want to move forward this year. What are a few goals we can set for improvements we want to make. The board is making goals and we will too. Imagine if everyone at a school tries to level up?
Above our plates you can see a rolled up Tshirt with the theme on it tied in raffia. The Tshirt has the theme and our vision verse for the year. Scattered around were small circles with "We appreciate teachers" on them.
You can see the water bottles with the words "Teacher appreciation luncheon 2013" which were made with the sticker paper that you print off the printer.
Helping New Teachers Find a Place and Feel Included
Also notice that each teacher had a namecard and a place. I liked how they mixed us up. I got to sit by people and no one was left alone. New teachers were mixed among the tables. They thought seriously about placement. It really made it fun. Co teachers were seated together.
Something for everyone
Inside the boxes were an assortment of salads: pasta salad, broccoli salad, chicken salad, fruit salad and a croissant. They were in different sized containers (which helped the PTO volunteers get it done more easily.)
The fork was actually a disposable fork but looked like metal which made it look classy. They had orange and white and dots repeated. And it was DELICIOUS. This was my meal today.
We ate together at the same time
This was so nice because after we prayed everyone was able to open their boxes and eat right then. When you have long lines sometimes the first in the line are done before the last in the line. We actually enjoyed it and laughed so much. I wondered why I couldn't remember really eating with colleagues and I realized -- it was the line. The boxed lunch really facilitated it.
We had stickers on quite a few things to help us remember what we do. They fit with the gardening theme.
"A teacher helps a child bloom."
was the quote on the brownie bag.
"A teacher helps a child flourish"
was on the croissant.
You can also see the motivational bookmark beside our place as well.
Taking Time to Be Kind Goes a Long Way
Little things make a big difference in the classroom. Right now I'm shopping for fabric, purchasing colorful duct tape which I use on my walls. I'm running here and there working on those small details.
The fact that someone would consider the details of a luncheon for us. I was almost in tears when I got done and realized the time that meal took. We had tablecloths and round tables. They thought of everything.
Some of you would say this time was better spent on the kids. But I'm saying as a teacher, I'll remember this meal all year. The time and tenderness and attention to detail made me feel loved. It made me feel appreciated.
I know it was a sacrifice. It meant so much more because it was a sacrifice.
But you don't have time!
Well, the people who did this meal include a doctor and the manager of an alligator farm. They have kids starting Thursday too. They took hours.
This meal meant so much to me because it cost them so much -- not in money but in time and attention. They really cared.
What can you do?
I hope amidst these details that you'll glimpse and see a few nuggets of ideas.
What if you don't have a PTO like this?
There are times you won't have a PTO this incredible. I'm starting my 12th year. In those down years, we teachers got together and appreciated ourselves. We had potlucks and did things to appreciate each other. Sometimes a person would bring flavored coffee and other times we would plan something fun.
Appreciate each other. That is a start. If you show each other respect, you'll see others start joining in.
Appreciate your students
What will it mean to your students when they see your attention to detail? What happens when they see you've thought of everything? What happens when they see your sacrifice and how much time it took you to plan?
If teachers crave appreciation -- as grown adults -- how much more so does a young child need it?
Appreciation rolls forward
I will love my students no matter how people treat me.
But I will love my school more and feel more deep loyalty as I feel love from people surrounding the school.
Some people might just take words as meaning 'I care" but for me, show me. Students feel the same way.
This has me thinking about the tiny details for my students. It has me thinking about how I can show more appreciation for my students. I'm so grateful for the experience that I want to pay it forward to others. Somehow sacrifice and appreciation multiplies itself greatly. These PTO representatives are blessing students through blessing us. All of us teachers felt the same way: cared for. People lingered and talked. We had a great time.
These are the things that make a fine school into a family.
I hope you will share pictures of great things that people do to appreciate teachers so that there are a lot of Back to School ideas floating around.
Have a great start of your school year. I know many of you won't have one as nice as mine but in all my years of teaching, nothing has been like this! Thank you Westwood PTO! Now, let's move Forward!