Hans Andrews, Ed.D. is a former community college president, dean of instruction, classroom teacher and counselor. He is, undoubtedly, the number one researcher-author in the world on the importance of special recognition for teachers, effective teacher evaluation, and the importance of dual-credit for secondary school students.
As you know, I have just received a teaching award which was both a surprise and an honor. What a perfect way this is for the school to say we appreciate what you are doing. Nothing can be more revitalizing for a worker than for your employer to say ‘nice job.’
Sue Meyer, Illinois Valley Community College, U.S.
Teacher recognition goes much deeper than giving a special award to special teachers. It reflects outward from several personality theories. Other factors of human behavior gets factored in with meaningful recognition programs for excellent teachers.
In a research study conducted for the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities summarized the following key outcomes that came from such recognition programs:
- They were outgrowths of faculty evaluation systems conducted primarily by instructional administrators
- They avoid the ‘merit pay’ issues by offering ‘recognition’ as the alternative
- Faculty, administrators and governing board members found these programs to be acceptable ways to recognize and promote their teachers
- They sprung off of the well known personality theories of Maslow (1954) and Herzberg (1966)
- They were shown to be successful in the goal of improving instruction through ‘reinforcement’ of quality teaching
The Gordon S. Black Corporation (GSBC) surveyed some 23,500 teachers and found that 50 percent did not have any form of ‘recognition’ in their school districts.
What was valued by teachers in recognition they received
A new sense of pride was developed as recognition programs grew and started including more teachers:
- It renewed confidence in their teaching
- It helped to give these teachers a voice in their educational profession
- Recognition helped highlight teachers various areas of expertise
One teacher summarized the award received by stating, “More than anything the award reinforced what we have known all along. We are doing the right thing for kids.”
The importance of leadership
Australia and New Zealand: The Centre for Marketing Schools found over 60 percent of teachers in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia were considering leaving the profession. The lack of communications between staff and school administrative leaders was reported as poor. In fact, twenty seven percent of the teachers surveyed described their principal as unapproachable.
It was recommended that these teachers need to feel both respect and ‘recognition’ which was documented as far too often lacking.
Gregor Ramsey, the Chair of Teaching Australia Awards, spoke of the importance of reaching out to celebrate the achievement of the Australian teachers, principals, support staff and schools. He commented:
The awards are an excellent opportunity to showcase a few of the many outstanding achievements within this great profession of ours.
National Excellent in Teaching Awards (NEITA) were developed to promote recognition for persons in the teaching profession. A board member stated:
We are in an ideal position to identify our highly effective teachers, nominate them, and encourage them, as they in turn encourage our children.
Canada: The former Premier of Ontario, Canada, Dalton McGuinty, in a powerful speech to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada made the following comments:
- It is time to celebrate excellence in teaching and I’m announcing today the Premier’s Awards for Teaching Excellence.
- Teachers are the greatest single influence over our children’s future, next to their parents and families.
- I want teachers, parents, and students to know that our neglect (of our teachers) is over. We will celebrate excellence in our teachers.
Taiwan: Special Teacher Recognitions were awarded by President Ma and Premier Liu of Taiwan. This country has also placed a major emphasis on effectiveness so more teachers can receive teaching excellence awards.
As noted above, the role of leaders is very important to lead the way to make these recognition programs start , grow, and continue for teachers at all levels in our schools and colleges.
Recipients of recognition speak
The ‘impact’ of what recognition of outstanding teachers feel emotionally when learning they have been nominated or were awarded special recognition follows:
It was a surprise because they asked for our presence at the office without letting us know of the matter at hand, and really, emotions ran wild, tears fell and I was stunned.
Gingerlei Maga Uil, American Samoan
This is a tremendous honor, an incredible opportunity for me to advocate for students, represent teachers, and draw positive attention to our collective efforts in public education.
Michelle M. Shearer, Maryland (U.S.), Teacher of the Year
Ultimately I wanted to make a difference to children’s lives. I feel that I have been called to teach. The school is my passion and this is where my heart is.
It still means the world to me that two students and their parents took the time to nominate me. I had never even heard of Michigan Teacher of the Year before my nomination. It truly has changed my life.
Bill Cecil, Lansing, Michigan
I’m just overwhelmed. Absolutely blindsided! It didn’t occur to me that I’d deserve something like this. It’s like a dream. Everyone in this building or this district is just as worth of receiving this as I am.
Lisa Carrier, Ottawa, Illinois
It was an incredible day. I was still buzzing from the event of carrying the torch (Olympic Torch relay). I couldn’t believe it at first. It was such a surprise. To be recognized for doing something I love is wonderful and very humbling.
Stephen Joyce, Scotland
The Faculty Excellence Award I received feels like a celebration of some of the toll teachers and their families pay. It was important to share this recognition with my family, friends, and my teachers.
Koshu Jagasia, India (Former instructor at Illinois Valley Community College)
I have been teaching for 17 years and this award shows how hard I have worked and I am so proud to have been chosen. When my name was called out I was absolutely stunned.
John Maucini, Works with the Deaf
Supportive leadership leads to ‘exceptional’ teacher recognition
Listed above was a sampling of very positive leadership statements on how important it is to bring ‘recognition’ to excellent teachers across the world. Once leaders recognize how important excellent teachers are to the future of their countries it makes sense to highlight the work of those teachers which helps to kept them staying motivated to continue their outstanding teaching efforts.
These above comments above made by those teachers who have received special recognition helps reinforce the importance to individual teachers once they are supported for their outstanding teaching. It is the hope of this author that many more school districts everywhere will see how important initiating such recognition programs can be for their teachers, students, and the communities that they work.