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[Education Leadership] Easy, Cost-Effective Strategies to Boost Teacher Morale

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 -- Scott Sterling

Aside from providing a rigorous academic environment, keeping the community engaged, and dealing with the moving target of budgeting, administrators are also tasked with making sure schools are welcoming, positive workplaces for staff members. But, when things get particularly hectic and stressful, those workplace culture efforts can be some of the first to slide. Here are four easy ways administrators can boost teacher morale without breaking the budget.

Leave positive Post-Its

Try keeping a stack of Post-It Notes with you at all times. When a teacher is away from their desk, leave an encouraging note on their computer screen. Receiving one in person may make the teacher feel self-conscious, or you may simply catch them in a distracted moment. The “drop and leave” method serves as a nice, no-pressure reminder of your appreciation for all their hard work.

Foster teacher friendships

Teachers tend to be insular—after all, they spend their entire day in the classroom with students. You try to give them opportunities to collaborate during staff development or prep periods, but it can be difficult to extend those efforts off-campus. Help your staff build relationships outside the classroom by providing an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other more personally. Early in the year, hold a faculty meeting and ask everyone to post three hobbies or interests (for example, golf or photography). Your staff members will be able to see who shares their interests, start conversations, and plan outings to bond as people; not just teachers.

Upgrade the teachers’ lounge

Often, the teachers’ lounge is where old furniture goes to die, and classroom extras find a (disorderly) home. The result? No one wants to spend any more time there than they absolutely need to. Fortunately, there are plenty of quick, cost-effective ways to break this pattern.

First, clear any clutter that doesn’t have to be there. Organize a group of teachers and give them two options: take what you want or toss what isn’t needed. Thrifty teachers can score some great classroom finds, and have a chance to bond with their coworkers in the process. Once the space is cleared out, comb Amazon, Target, or your favorite thrift stores for some engaging décor and gently-used furniture items. You can also recruit a group of creative teacher-volunteers, give them a small budget to work with, ask them to unleash their inner-interior decorators, and chances are they’ll can have that room turned around in no time. Extra points if you find a way for students to help.

Ask for budget feedback

This is less fun, but it can be a very valuable strategy. Teachers often feel as if their opinions aren’t really heard, and that critical decisions about the school are made much further up on the food chain. Committees are great, but many teachers don’t have the time to participate in another extracurricular activity. Wherever possible, allow teachers input on budgetary matters, whether by engaging them in hallway conversations, or sending out brief surveys. Maybe it’s not in the form of a board vote or budget approval, but your teachers will appreciate that their feedback is desired. You may find out some unexpected things about what’s truly important to keep your school running smoothly, too.

Looking for more tips to make your school a positive environment to work and learn in? Check out this blog post on Shaping Your School Climate Through Personalized Learning!