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The finish line is well in sight and it calls for celebration. Organizing a meaningful end-of-the-year staff party sounds like a lot of work, but a little commemoration goes a long way to instill an important sense of accomplishment for finishing the year strong. You deserve to acknowledge getting through it all in one piece. Hosting a teacher awards ceremony is a fun and easy way for you and your fellow staff to share appreciation; here are some tips for pulling it together at the end!
Making your staff party into an award ceremony gives the organization committee—or you, the organization individual(s)—a specific direction. Like any other kind of staff party, an award ceremony can consist of various forms of entertainment. But the key here is that the awards themselves will serve as the foundation, the starting point from which the other planning can easily follow.
I provide a step-by-step guide to help you make this into an exciting, well-rounded event!
First things first, make your awards ceremony official by sending an invite! Instead of just sending out a typical email invitation, send physical invitations that ask the staff to join you at the award ceremony. Sending invites can add a fun layer of formality to your award ceremony. If you do go this route, however, you should also send out a reminder email just to make sure it makes its way onto everyone’s calendars.
Another way to spruce up your big night (or day) is to assign a dress code. It can be formal, sure! But it can also be themed. Get creative! Maybe you want to have a school colors dress code, or get everyone to dress in funny, themed outfits. Or you might simply want to have a prop box at the door with funny things like giant fake eyeglasses and other similar items for your awardees to wear.
You’ll want to put some thought into the types of awards you will give out at your ceremony. Here are some ideas for the kind of awards you might want to include:
1. CREATIVE TEACHER AWARDS
Give out awards based on the unique personality traits of the teachers. Base these awards around the ways each teacher stands out from the rest of the staff. Here are a few ideas for creative teacher awards to get you started:
2. MOST LIKELY TO AWARDS
These ones are especially easy—and fun—to assign! These awards are superlatives (most likely to) and are similarly a great way to celebrate the unique, distinguishing qualities of your staff. Here are a few examples of most likely to awards:
Use awards that are inspired by a series of famous and influential people in history! The recipients of these awards will be entertained to discover which celebrated individuals they get aligned with. Here are a few examples of famous people awards:
Teacher awards are tokens of recognition. Above all, they should serve to make your staff members feel special and recognized by their peers. The award selections should aim to get at the heart of your staff members’ distinct personality traits. They should also be lighthearted and entertaining.
Whether you choose to make your own awards from scratch, or you use an end-of-the-year teacher award set, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:
These awards should not be an opportunity to poke fun at any individual staff members. Give out awards that will genuinely make the recipient feel special and appreciated by their school staff community. It’s ok to be a little cheesy with these—in fact, it’s appropriate.
Depending on the nature of the event, you might want to make sure that the awards do not only go to the teachers, but also to the other staff members. For this, you’ll want to think about the particular wording on the awards: you might want to have a teacher-specific version or an all-encompassing staff version.
Try to make each of your awards personable enough that they resonate with the recipient, but also broad and concise enough so that creating and assigning the awards doesn’t overtake the whole event planning process.
Consider allowing your recipients to give short acceptance speeches. These shouldn’t be a requirement, however. Some teachers might feel uncomfortable and nervous about receiving the award if they know they must follow it up with a speech. But allow those willing to jump in and say a few words to do so. Your event will benefit from the social energy of the teachers who are willing to participate in that way.
Have a surprise guest come to deliver a talk—or have them deliver each of the awards! Is there someone linked to your school or local community who your teachers would all be happy to see? Maybe it’s a retired staff member or a well-known local athlete, business owner, or politician. Whoever it is, just make sure they are on board with the sincere nature of the event.
Maybe the award isn’t the only thing that all of your teachers receive that night. Consider having a few gift baskets (or any gift really) that teachers can win! This could add another layer of anticipation throughout the event.
Depending on the school, some teacher awards ceremonies might need to take place virtually. That’s ok! Each of these above suggestions can also be applied to a virtual context. One of the teachers who used my awards said:
“We have started doing teacher/staff awards each week to raise morale in our school. WOW! Our teachers are loving it! We send out a google form for the staff to cast their votes. Such a great encourager!”
In another blog, I describe how to adapt student awards to an online context. Dress codes, acceptance speeches, and surprise guests can also work on a computer screen.
Hosting a teacher awards ceremony can be a fantastic way to end the year on a positive note. It provides a unique stage for school staff members to show their appreciation for one another. I hope that, after reading this, you feel more prepared to plan your end-of-the-year event.
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