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October 11, 2022
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Video: How School Leaders Can Let Teachers Know They Matter

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EL columnists Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey highlight a creative teacher-appreciation project at their schools.  
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Video: How School Leaders Can Let Teachers Know They Matter
Credit: Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey, EL Show & Tell Video, October 2022
We all know the past few years in education have put a tremendous strain on teachers. Many educators have gone through periods of burnout, low morale, exhaustion, or career questioning. Some are leaving the profession altogether.  
In response, some commentators have put forth compelling proposals for policy overhauls and systemic reforms to make careers in education more sustainable. But in their column in the most recent issue of Educational Leadership, Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey, well-known authors and school administrators in San Diego, point out that there are also some relatively low-lift things school leaders can do in the meantime to improve the instructional cultures in their schools and ensure that teachers feel a sense of validation and support. 
One of their suggestions is to “change the narrative on how teachers see themselves”—that is, to take steps to make sure teachers don’t get lost in cycles of self-doubt about whether their work matters (not an uncommon experience in schools these days). By way of example, they highlight a video project that a principal at their school undertook in which he asked students to film their teachers as they told them they were the reason they came to school each day. The clips were then edited into a compilation of shamelessly authentic teacher-appreciation moments. (See the full video below. As Fisher and Frey suggest, you may want to have some tissues on hand.) 
Such creative morale-boosting efforts may not be a substitute for the structural reforms that are needed in the profession, but they are a way of cultivating a “culture of appreciation” in schools that teachers need to thrive. That’s a step in the right direction. As Fisher and Frey note, “Each of us has opportunities to ensure that educators at the schools where we work know they are important and valued.” Now’s the time to use them.  
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Show & Tell / A Creative Teacher Appreciation Project

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Anthony Rebora is the editor in chief of Educational Leadership.

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