At the heart of education is a five- or six-year-old child entering a public school classroom along with other children and the passionate, eager teacher dedicating hours and hours of planning and effort to begin the foundation that will be built upon over the course of the next 12 years. Educators invest in making a difference to transform students into knowledgeable, capable, future citizens, but the continual practice of authentic appreciation for teachers, administrators, and other staff members can be the driving force to build emotional engagement. Emotional engagement drives people to continue the investment for kids’ sake, to focus on effective classroom practices, to enhance instruction each year with professional learning and collaboration. Providing teachers a t-shirt, a bag, and a few 10% off coupons at the beginning of the year isn’t enough appreciation, nor is it authentic and specific. An innovative shift in expressing gratitude must occur to build emotional engagement which empowers the culture in a system, in a family of workers.
Designing to express gratitude in our Round Rock ISD family meant exploring how people experience appreciation. Through our initial conversations, interviews, and inquiry, we constructed a plan to build a core of appreciation within each campus and/or department. The Pineapple chart serves as the core to welcome others to observe others in their practice, view the engaging lesson, shadow a division leader and promote genuine praise. The pineapple serves as a symbol for welcome. At a campus, a Google form allows a teacher to welcome others to enter their “home” and entertain them with a phenomenal lesson. It’s a virtual way of posting a pineapple as a welcome mat and then opening the door to visitors. It invokes the spread of shared learning with colleagues, but then it would follow with notes and letters of gratitude.
This core plan would be the golden fruit that inspires quick videoed interviews to spread from campus to campus and across the district to learn about others in our family. Instructional coaches and district personnel would conduct short, casual interviews and upload the video to promote star employees.