Monday, November 22, 2010

Recognizing the shining stars...

Today I had the opportunity to speak with one of the members of my high school's custodial staff.  This particular team member is assigned to my classroom.  Though we are almost halfway done with the school year, I have regrettably not spent much time talking to this person.  Today was my chance...

It was so nice to speak with the person that is responsible for making sure my classroom is ready to go for the next school day.  As a teacher, I come to work every day and I take for granted that my classroom is clean and ready to go for students.  I had no idea how many things need to happen in order for a classroom to be considered "clean."  I spoke at length with this team member about the very strict and precise checklist that must be completed on a daily, so many things I never even realized that needed to be dealt with.

I wrote a post back in July called "Do you Recognize the Many Pieces to the Puzzle?", and today was a great reminder of the important role others play in our lives.  As the conversation was coming to an end, I simply said "thank you for all your hard work."  This particular team member's response was simple but sad...she told me "you're welcome, I don't hear that very often."  This response made me both sad and happy at the same time.  I know this team member must be doing a great job because I have not had any classroom issues...too bad her great work has gone somewhat unnoticed.  Until now... 

When you go to work tomorrow, please don't forget about the people who make it all possible.  We all have a certain role, and it is together that we make everything possible.  I would like to encourage you to give thanks to the "stars" who help us do our jobs by doing theirs...      


  1. So true! In one of my grad classes we talked about that... the importance of knowing EVERYONE in a building.. not just the teachers, but the cooks, secretaries, and custodians. They do different work than we do, but without them, our jobs would be much harder.

  2. Thank you for reminding everyone of this. Our school is a very large building with a large lot too. When budget cuts caused our custodial staff to shrink, few teachers realized how that changed their workday. Now they have the same size building and grounds to care for but with fewer people.

    Some teachers complain bitterly that they don't feel their rooms are clean enough, but they don't even have their students pick up litter and books off the floor before they leave for the evening. These teachers need to realize that we must all work together to keep our school looking great during these tough times.

  3. How often do the custodians say "Hey thanks for educating these kids"? Not often.

    My custodian leaves my room in shambles.

  4. My grandfather, years after running a business, decided he would like to be a custodian at an elementary school. He LOVED his job! When he retired, he received more love and admiration than any retiring teacher or administrator. He was their caretaker, and they- the children, the adults, everyone- loved him.

    In undergrad days... all my methods course professors said something to the effect of, "Make friends with the custodians and food service folks. They take care of you more than anyone else in the building and rarely receive the praise they so deserve." I was so happy to hear this piece of advice.

    Some of my absolute favorite people in any of the schools where I've worked have been custodial and food service staff. They usually have pretty thankless jobs, but they are dedicated to making everyone else happy.

    Thanks for writing this post, Justin. It takes an entire team, not just a few individuals. :-)

  5. Maybe they've given up because they're feeling under-appreciated, Allen? Never hearing praise would certainly make me burn out and not want to do my job well. On the other hand, if you're looking for thanks, then you're not doing your job for the right reasons. Knowing that you're doing a good job should be enough.

    Regardless, I think it's always nice to give a compliment. One small "thank you" can go a long way. I know it always makes me feel better when someone tells me that they appreciate my hard work.

  6. I think it says a lot about you as an educator that you realize that we are not doing this alone. We have so many people we count on every single day and who do things that allow us to focus on engaging our kids. Thanks for the reminder to stop and say "Thank you" so that they realize the appreciation we have for them.

  7. Saying thanks is too transparent. Show thanks by acknowledging these people on a daily basis, not just on predetermined dates. Continue saying thanks by talking to them and inviting them to your meetings in order to hear their perspective.

    Be sincere and genuine, that is how to show thanks.

  8. Thanks for sharing such an awesome perspective! Yes, there are many pieces & people that play a part in our children's education. It's great when we work together to support learning.

  9. This is a great sign for an administrator! We have to recognize, especially in a school, that each one of us counts to make students lives better. It is essential that we treat everyone with respect and caring in our school, and know that they have a part in making our schools better.

    Great job Justin!

  10. Nice of you to acknowledge the hard work of others. Especially those that are often overlooked.

  11. There is more to a school than just the teachers and students. We have greater contact with secretarial staff but others can be overlooked such as cleaners, canteen staff and volunteers. All jobs are important in the running of a school yet recognition is not always there. This blog post is important in opening the eyes of many. I hope we all remember to thank those in the background who make our lives as teachers easier.