For most teachers the winter holidays have been over for a week. Two years ago our school adopted a three-week winter break and we lost a week in the summer. I have now been on vacation for long enough to feel irrelevant; no holidays left to celebrate, no trips left to take, but still no school either. I suggested to @edtechfarooq that this break might be long enough to introduce a “winter slide,” and he laughed awkwardly, probably because he knows it’s true.

I took time to read The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (Chapman and White) during this prolonged break, and it has had me contemplating my preferred language of appreciation. A hand me down, the MBA Inventory access code had already been used, but I am sure that my preferred mode of receiving appreciation is Quality Time. Interestingly, my principal has been coming around to my classroom more often lately, and it has been very reassuring. Without question, I feel valued by the school, and knowing that it is probably because of this book doesn’t detract from this. I am not sure what my second language would be, but I have memorably had part of my lunch duty covered by another principal, an Act of Service. I remain uncertain as to whether it resonated with me because Acts of Service is my secondary language or because it was duty coverage.

I now wonder about my department and how well I have been doing at speaking to each teacher using their preferred or secondary language of appreciation. Even though it’s hard, I always ensure there are snacks at department meetings, which is an Act of Service. Eschewing digital surveys via email, when I want to know what my fellow teachers think, I go and ask them, which is me spending Quality Time with them. I probably fall down on the consistent use of Words of Affirmation, or if they are used, I use them during the aforementioned Quality Time. As a department head, any spending on Tangible Gifts comes out of pocket so these are minor in nature, such as a small box of chocolates before the holidays. Still, I am trying, and it does matter, because our department functions well as a team.

This book only serves to reinforce my contention that these little gestures do matter, especially if they are authentic and sincere. Thus, I will keep doing what I do, but perhaps make greater note of individuals’ reactions to these languages of appreciation to get better still at getting it right.