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I'm a teacher at a highschool and currently we've been working on projects that are supposed to make the kids appreciate those around them especially the other teachers and workers at the school. During an advisory time earlier this year, we had the students write a letter of appreciation to someone who works at the school. Another project that we're going to start up is a student voted "employee of the month" and that teacher/worker will be somehow celebrated -we haven't worked out the details-. The problem with both of these ideas is that they're ineffective and the students all just wrote letters begrudgingly and I think this upcoming project won't make them feel appreciation for those who help them either.

Are there general steps, for either creating an environment for students to appreciate teachers and other workers? Or are there general ways that appreciation works in the mind so that we can come up with projects that will truly help them?

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Firstly, this question sounds pretty clearly self-serving, like saying "I want people to like me more; how do I make them like me?". Secondly, school is a business, much like other businesses. When a company makes a product, of course the company hopes the market will "appreciate" the product. There are many marketing strategies used out there, but the long-term viability of a product requires that it provides clear value. Without that value, prospects cannot be expected to appreciate the product. In the case of high school, most students are probably aware that the product is not being sold to the students but instead to the parents. Hence, students are not the customer. Since students are not the customer, and since students had little to no say in the product's design, getting the students to appreciate the product is going to be very challenging.

One approach is to make the students believe they are the customer. You might, for example, use a bandwagon strategy wherein you explain that "There are many happy students from years prior who have attended this school and are now enjoying a life of success and freedom".

Another approach, which would be more honest, would be to actually make the students into the customer, such as by designing the curriculum around their needs and aspirations while providing a clear value that cannot easily be found elsewhere. If you are to be honest with yourself, this is the only noble approach. If a school cannot provide clear benefits that a student cannot find outside of school (such as on the Internet or in books alone), then that school is not doing its job. Sure, there are many types of rhetoric and trickery that can (and often are) employed by schools and governments, but these are nothing to be proud of.

In short: Provide a unique and worthwhile opportunity with a benefit that can be seen clearly. Engage the students in the curriculum -- make them the customer.

PS: While a bit off-topic, I just remembered a music video that critiques some of the curriculum focus in the recent if not current school system. This video had no bearing on my answer here as I only remembered the video afterward, but its topic is related enough to be worth mentioning here.

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  • $\begingroup$ You've already explained how to make the student the customer in your answer and I think that through clubs, hands on experiences that -most likely- wouldnt be available at other schools, students are recieving an education that would be nearly impossible to achieve outside of school. I would agree with your statement and argument that that is the best to go about trying to get students to ve more appreciative, however I think that there still is a lack of appreciation. I will be working on trying to provide more unique curriculum for the student. (Cont. On next comment) $\endgroup$ – Morella Almånd Jan 27 '16 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ I get the feeling -and other teachers do too- that students don't like school, much less its classes. We try to make lessons interesting, but often times I think that students don't like them. Do you think that the root of the problem lies there, and if so how would you suggest that we change it? $\endgroup$ – Morella Almånd Jan 27 '16 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ From what I have seen in my life so far, it seems that general appreciation for anything in life comes from having enough experience to understand what it would be like to lack that particular something. This is the reason why some people are "spoiled" from having too much available to them, too consistently. People tend to adjust their sense of value on whatever the norm is, so few people appreciate what has basically always been available. At the same time, a consumerist society and culture actively works against appreciating what we already have. $\endgroup$ – Michael Jan 27 '16 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ While I cannot provide any silver bullets, the first thoughts that usually comes to mind for me on this topic are that (a) you have to make sure you really are providing value to the customer and (b) you have to make sure the prospect, customer, or client is able to understand and see that value. My experience is mostly in business, not education, but I cannot see how they are all that different really since education is indeed a product (more like a service) to be sold. Consultants also sell education, albeit in a more money-oriented form. $\endgroup$ – Michael Jan 27 '16 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ Any time you work hard to provide a product or service you want people to appreciate it. Believe me, I understand this desire. Nobody wants the fruits of their work to be viewed as worthless. At the same time, you have to be honest with yourself and really look at the other options the customer has. You have to look at it from their perspective and try to figure out what their desires are. It is not always easy to target the customer's wants. Sometimes you have to do surveys and collect information in other ways just to figure out what the customer really wants. $\endgroup$ – Michael Jan 27 '16 at 15:07

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