GovernanceCorner Practical tips from our MIG faculty

Staff recognition: The value of feeling valued
An important responsibility of a school district or county office of education board is staff recognition. In our current school environment, staff have been stepping up in unprecedented ways to ensure that student learning continues — all while dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in their own lives. Gallup poll research shows that consistent recognition for doing good work has a direct influence on the key performance measures that we use to evaluate our schools. Teachers and other staff who receive regular recognition and praise are more productive, engaged at work, likely to stay with their school and likely to receive higher satisfaction scores from student and parents.

When county and district boards fail to recognize the good work of staff, they also fail to uplift the work that makes their district successful. During these difficult times, the simple act of recognizing staff is an easy way for any county or district board to show their appreciation for the hard work and dedication of their schools’ staff. Research shows that recognition requires two things to be effective: it must be individualized and it must be frequent. Ideally, superintendents and administrators, with board direction, should create a “recognition-rich environment.” Praise must come from all directions, and not just during staff appreciation weeks.

A few questions county and district board members can ask when considering ways to recognize staff are:

  1. Which staff are we recognizing as a board? Teachers? Classified? Administrators?
  2. How should we recognize them? What platform do we use?
  3. When we do recognize staff, are we getting that good news out to our school and to our communities?
  4. How do we communicate to parents and other stakeholders the positive recognition that we give to staff?
  5. What does our recognition, outside of staff appreciation week, look like?
  6. What kind of recognition are we giving? What incentives are the recipients receiving?
  7. Are we working with our bargaining units to identify the individuals who will receive recognition?
  8. How do we recognize our superintendent for his or her accomplishments?
  9. Have we asked staff how they want to be recognized?
  10. Have we discussed our district culture around staff recognition and its importance? What are our past practices and what are the best practices from neighboring districts?

It is important to understand the individual needs of your staff. Remember to recognize good work when you see it and offer timely recognition in a way that means the most to them. As an added bonus, in times of tight budgets and other significant concerns, staff recognition is a way to create a positive climate and culture that will keep your employees motivated and your district or county office encouraged.