Positive social environments build healthy relationships, promote mental well-being and provide an optimal environment for both physical and mental health to flourish. As teachers, coaches, students, co-workers, families and teams, we should all take a little time to acknowledge and focus on the wonderful aspects of ourselves and each other that we sometimes overlook. The more people feel recognized and appreciated for their effort and contributions, the more pride and commitment they bring to their work. In the spirit of this, I have provided three team appreciation activities that are easy—and low cost—to consider incorporating into your school-wide wellness plan.
Paper Plate Awards
This is a fun and engaging appreciation activity—perfect for Christmas or year-end celebrations!
- Here’s how: Two weeks prior to the celebration put all team members’ names into a hat. Everyone pulls a name and is given a plain paper plate. Each person is tasked with creating a paper plate award for the person whose name they pulled. The awards can be funny, heartfelt or totally obvious. For example: Most Helpful, Most Likely to Blow Their Printing Budget, Best Classroom Decor, Best Theme Day Participant, Best Relationship Builder, Most Likely to Be Here First and Leave Last, etc. Be sure to challenge everyone to decorate with creativity and flare! Encourage team members to be thoughtful and recognize each other’s best attributes—cheeky awards can also be fun as long as it’s in good spirit! Have each individual present the Paper Plate Award at the celebration.
The Big Picture
This is a great activity for recognizing each person for the unique and individual strengths they bring to the team. It’s a relatively quick puzzle-building activity that can be done at a staff meeting. The completed puzzle pieces are a great way to recognize team members for their contributions and serve as fantastic reminders of the important roles they play in the big picture!
- Here’s how: Print one puzzle piece per team member and write their name on it. Set out puzzle pieces and a variety of markers or pens around the table or room. Team members rotate through the room and add to every puzzle piece, with the exception of their own. On each puzzle piece, add words or phrases that describe the strengths and unique qualities of the person named on it. It’s helpful to have a timekeeper to instruct the group to rotate to the next puzzle piece every 30-60 seconds. One person collects the pieces at the end, laminates and hands them out at a later date.
This is an awesome activity that requires a bit more time than the previous two. For the super-wellness champs, I suggest stretching the activity over the course of the year, with one individual being recognized every week, every staff meeting or every month.
- Here’s how: Choose a person that you wish to recognize. Ask that individual to leave the room while the rest of the team write positive attributes about the person around the top and outer edge of the whiteboard. Invite the person back into the room but do not let them see the whiteboard. Position the whiteboard behind them and take a picture. Erase the whiteboard. Print and frame the photo and give it to the individual. Alternatively, save all the photos until the end of the year and give them all out at once.
These are just a few ways of recognizing each other for our strengths—and maybe for things that may not be so obvious to the person being celebrated. Try these out and build upon the community within your workplace. Have any other ideas to share? Tell me all about them in the comments below!