I honestly cannot recall a time when staff morale has been more important than right now. District leaders are struggling. Teachers are struggling. But it's even worse if school staff are not in constant contact with one another, and no real concern for mental and physical well-being exists. Establishing clear, consistent guidelines and keeping everyone in the know as things change and new decisions are made will boost trust and promote a culture of care and consideration. Everyone is facing so many challenges right now, some of which you may not even be aware, but one thing is true: no matter how tough things are, we must always treat each other with respect and kindness and exercise empathy.
Below are a few ideas to help anyone--leaders or otherwise--maintain a positive environment that focuses on caring for one another. If you have successfully implemented other strategies, please share! We would love to pass those along to schools that might be having a difficult time.
- Leaders: ensure you have an open-door policy for all staff (both in person and virtual if your buildings are closed). Staff need to feel safe coming to administrators about any issue. Likewise, teachers should be able to go to one another for support.
- Create a gratitude/sharing board (in person or virtual). Focus on the positives as much as possible.
- Boost one another up by celebrating everyone’s achievements, no matter how small or big they may be.
- Consider delivering weekly mini-newsletters to staff. Note: Make sure the content is worth them taking time to read. More unnecessary content will just overwhelm people.
- If it’s possible to cut out any unnecessary meetings and deliver information via email, do so. It is important to keep the team informed of goings-on and decisions that affect the school/district, and a brief weekly newsletter could be a more feasible option for those already pressed for time and likely exhausted.
- Hold each other accountable, and if you see someone struggling and you have the capacity to help, offer to do so.
- If you make a promise, keep it.
- Try to keep negative talk and gossip out of the equation. If there is a legitimate complaint or problem, acknowledge it and fix it. If random gossip is occurring, make sure everyone knows it’s not acceptable and stop it immediately. This does nothing for team morale, and we need to remove as much stress from our environments as we can.
- Lastly, always be nice! It’s amazing how far a kind word can go to build trust and rapport between people. Teaching is a hard enough job without having to worry about hateful words or actions from your colleagues. Remember the quote: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
What are your suggestions?