Teacher and staff morale in schools seems to be at a dangerous low. Teachers feel under appreciated, alone, and even bullied. They are leaving the profession in droves.
It’s easy to blame politicians, school administration, and testing for this low morale. It’s easy to complain about what the principal is not doing for teachers or what the team lead should be doing. We can all make a huge list of ways we think other people at the school could improve the overall morale of the staff.
Me included. I am just as guilty.
In fact, I almost didn’t write this article because I was struggling to see how teachers could really help to improve morale. I wanted someone to blame and admin was an easy target for me.
It’s true. Working with an amazing principal who appreciates you, values your time, trusts you, and leaves motivational notes and candy bars in your mailbox is a dream come true. Some of you have that. And some don’t.
Sadly, I can’t change the way your admin treats staff. I would personally leave you all notes and candy bars if I could.
But I can change the conversation.
We can’t change everything about our school. It might not be perfect. But there are some simple things that WE can do that will making teaching at our school more fun. We can and should do our part to improve teacher and staff morale at our school.
I have some ideas to share with you and I’d love to hear ideas that you might have.
Host a Secret Gift Exchange
Teachers at my school once hosted a Secret Santa gift exchange week and it was loads of fun!
Teachers were able to opt in, so it wasn’t mandated.
We used the website Elfster to organize the entire event. Anyone who wanted to participate signed up using the site. We also included a little about ourselves such as favorite colors, snacks, drinks, etc.
The website randomly matched each teacher with another teacher. This was our Secret Santa. For one week, we surprised them with small gifts. These gifts were super inexpensive such as a candy bar or some new pens.
People got pretty creative with how the gift was delivered and that made it extra fun. All week I had a blast spoiling a staff member that I had never really gotten to know before. At the same time, I was being surprised with gifts from my Secret Santa.
This was a blast and it was easy to set up!
You could even do something like this during a big testing week! It doesn’t have to just be a Christmas thing.
Takeover the Staff Lounge
The staff lounge tends to be a depressing room at most schools. It’s generally not nicely decorated and it is almost always full of staff members complaining. What if you could bring a little fun and positivity to this space? This can definitely improve teacher and staff morale!
I suggest asking the various grade level team leads if they would like to participate. If they are being forced to participate, they will see it as another mandate.
Asign participating grade levels to a month. Maybe first grade is assigned to January and second grade is taking February.
The grade level teams can come up with plans to make the staff lounge fun during their month!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- stock the lounge with fun treats
- decorate the lounge (especially for holidays!)
- host a game or challenge in the lounge (Example: Can you guess whose baby pictures these are?)
- create a staff shout out board in the lounge
- put funny discussion questions on the tables to encourage conversation
Creating a fun team lounge area will help to improve staff morale because you will have a place to hang out, even if for only 10 minutes per day!
Start a Social Committee
Staff that has fun together will enjoy their job more!
How about creating a Facebook group for your staff to use to make plans together outside of school? Make sure that you specifically state that the purpose of the group is to plan get togethers and not to complain!
Try and set up at least one social activity each month. Keep them simple!
Here are some easy ideas to get you started:
- happy hour at a local restaurant
- family BBQ/picnic at a park
- group hike somewhere local
- Bunco game or craft night hosted at someone’s house
- carol or look at holiday lights together
- attend a local sporting event
Becoming friends with the people that you work with is a great way to improve moral.
Host a Book Club
Teachers love to read! Hosting a book club is a fun way to improve the morale of teachers at your school while enjoying a hobby!
Books clubs are easy to set up.
- Choose a book for your club to read. I recommend picking a book that is relevant to multiple grade levels. Click HERE to check out a list of my favorite teacher books.
- Choose a meeting time. You will want to meet every week or every other week for about 30 minutes. How about 30 minutes prior to school one day per week?
- Plan a reading schedule. Book clubs work best when everyone is reading through the book at the same time. I suggest grabbing your book and a calendar to decide which chapters you will read and discuss each week.
- Invite your coworkers to join the book club! Mandated book clubs aren’t as much fun, so keep your club optional. Remember that you don’t need a big club!
It might even be fun to read fiction books over school breaks!
Write Notes to Coworkers
Teachers long to feel appreciated. We want someone to notice how hard we are working and how much we care. We want to be noticed.
Improving the morale in your entire school will take lots of time, but it is so easy to start. All you need to do is start noticing and appreciating other teachers and staff at your school.
It’s so easy!
- Choose a staff member each week to appreciate. Watch them and look for positives.
- Write a note thanking them and complimenting them.
- Stick the note in their mailbox or even hand deliver it.
You can step this up a bit by just attaching some chocolate to the note. 🙂
This simple note can completely change someone’s day. Your words can make someone else smile and feel appreciated.
You know what else is cool? Writing this note will make you feel good too! Taking time every week to look for positive things happening at your school and then complimenting others will start to improve your morale!
Well, are you with me?
Are you ready to start changing the conversation?
What can YOU do to help to improve teacher and staff morale at your school?
Have a Not So Wimpy day!