Every week in Fall Creek is wonderful, but this one seemed a bit more special.  Teacher Appreciation Week brought a number of wonderful things to school.  Our board was very generous with gifts for our staff.  T-shirts, mobile chargers, food, and gift cards all made their way to our group.  We had quotes from kids playing on our screens throughout the school for the last 2 days of the week (thanks to the #LeadWild crew for the idea). From start to finish the week was wonderful…mostly because of Teacher Appreciation Week, but we also had a few other events that brought it to a new level.  The best part was that all scheduled events came with some Unscheduled fun that brought even more joy to the moment.  Here were a few…

Personal Days
We raffled off 2 personal days a few months ago.  It was a great idea given to me by the incomparable Jeff Zoul.  I got to teach Chemistry (well, we actually talked problem solving with drones and Spheros) and a Library aide.  It was a fantastic opportunity to get into the classroom and give away a day for our staff.  I was happy that the scheduled dates came up during Teacher Appreciation Week.  I loved the time with kids…dedicate opportunity to get feedback, but more importantly, just to connect.  Unscheduled fun…One tweet from the day and I have already had conversations with a number of people who are implementing it in their building next year.

Excellence in Education
This banquet allows us to select 4 seniors to recognize. 
They choose an influential teacher from their career and the local Chamber of Commerce puts on a dinner for all of the recipients.  I got to attend and see the joy in the faces of both teacher and student…it was such a wonderful way to celebrate an educator that made a difference in their lives.  Unscheduled fun…2 of the recipients from a different district were in 2nd grade when I was their principal in a different school.  To see them walk across the stage and receive their award gave me an incredible sense of pride though I haven't seen them in years.

We were interviewing for a few positions this week.  We adjusted our schedule because 2 of our team members were being recognized by players on the Varsity Softball team. 
Each year, our coach asks his players to have one teacher introduced with them during a game…another great connection for staff and students.  After a different interview, our team felt so strongly about one of the candidates that they wanted to drive 20 minutes away and offer the recommendation for hire at her student teaching placement.  Unscheduled fun…to see the pictures from our teachers and the reaction of our recommended hire…wow.  It was an impromptu event that our candidate and team will never forget.

Muffins with Mom
20 minutes a day.  That is all it takes.  20 minutes of uninterrupted time with your kids and the connection you can make is astounding. 
Muffins with mom is always 20 minutes and we always fill the gym.  This year we had over 600 muffins ready for our kids and a significant female role model in their lives.  We have 325 kids in our school.  The response continues to make me proud to live in a place like Fall Creek.  Unscheduled fun…Later in the day I received a text from a family at my former school.  It was the family’s last Muffins with Mom as their youngest was moving on to a new school.  She just texted to say thanks for starting it.

Girls on the Run
4 years ago one of our teachers asked if she could start a Girls on the Run team.  We started with 12 girls, made great connections, and we were off.  4 years later we have 42 girls in the program and it is now the largest in the area. 
It is a perfect example of someone finding their passion and taking that passion to kids to give them an opportunity.  The conversations they have about image, goal setting, and taking care of yourself and others have helped our girls tremendously.  It also allows them to connect with other staff members in the building so they have another quality adult in their life. Unscheduled fun…I got to see parents take pride in what their kids do outside of school, watched a K-5 pep rally for 42 girls, and saw their reaction as they were given high fives from their peers.

Teacher Appreciation Week is unique.  When I started thinking about this blog post, I was trying to figure out how we could make school feel like Teacher Appreciation Week all the time in our building.  After a few conversations with people I know and trust, I have pulled back on that stance.  Though we want people to feel valued and know that they are part of something bigger, there is no problem with adding a few pieces to a particular week of the year to celebrate our staff.  Events are special.  Scheduled events like birthdays, holidays, games, or a celebration week like we just had in Fall Creek. Unscheduled events like impromptu conversations, random Google Hangouts, calls, or tweets…however they enter your world, they are all about being in the moment.  The week was full of moments that I won't soon forget, most were scheduled, but some were not…all added to an incredible place that I get to call home.  Well done, Fall Creek…well done. Go Crickets.
AuthorJoe Sanfelippo