As the school year begins, so does the stress and expectations put upon teachers. We go from pretty much not having a care in the world during the summer to deadlines, paperwork, planning, assessments…you name it, we have to do it. All these duties can become overwhelming quickly and that overwhelm can have a negative impact on staff morale. Here are some ways to keep the morale trending in a positive direction.
- Smile: Look other staff members in the eye when you are walking down the hall and give them a big smile. Smiles are contagious and seeing some smiling makes you want to smile too. It doesn’t cost anything. It takes very little effort. It can make someone else feel good about themselves and should make you feel good too. If staff members look the other way when walking down the hall, it can make things very uncomfortable so just make eye contact and smile, smile, smile.
- Happy Notes: You can write positive sayings on sticky notes and leave them in staff members’ mailboxes or at their desks. You can also print out positive quotes that you find online and disperse them the same way. You don’t even have to sign your name. Staff members will love getting these pick-me-ups throughout the week. If you have the cell number of other staff members, you can also text them positive quotes several times a week. There is a motivational quote a day on Facebook Messenger that you can sign up for. You can then copy and send those positive quotes to your colleagues who are on Facebook or save them to your photos and send them by text.
- Potluck Fridays: You can have each Friday be a day that staff members bring something to share at lunch. It could be soups, desserts, salads, side dishes…whatever staff members would like. It is a great way to end the week and can be something to look forward to each week. Doesn’t everyone love when someone else cooks their food for them? It always tastes better.
- Morale Pal: Some schools have each staff member anonymously choose the name of another staff member who becomes their morale pal for the year. Staff members then buy small gifts (candy bars, coffee, etc), leave notes, anything to make the other staff member smile throughout the year. It is all done anonymously and everyone who wants to participate is included. It is a great way to show caring and kindness.
- Premium Parking: Your school can assign the best parking spot in the lot to a different person each week or month. The person who gets the spot is nominated by the last person who had the spot. The first person to get the spot may be someone that everyone votes for and then after that the person who gets the spot can nominate the next person. This is especially enjoyed in the cold winter months, if you have that kind of weather where you live. If you live in an area of heat and humidity, it may be appreciated even more!
- Duty Coverage: If your principal wants to help improve morale in your building, they can offer to cover someone’s lunch, arrival or dismissal duty. He/she could give each staff member a card that they can trade in when they want to have a day without a duty. It is amazing how good it will make the staff feel. It will definitely gain the administrator some good guy/gal points. If there are other staff members who don’t usually have a duty, they can be used to cover some duties as well. That’s an A+ for teamwork.
- PTO/PTA Reimbursement: If your school has a PTO/PTA, maybe you could approach them about giving each teacher an amount of money as a gift or reimburse a certain amount that teachers spend on classroom supplies. Teachers can save the receipts from their classroom purchases and the PTO/PTA can reimburse an amount, for example, up to $50. Every little bit helps teachers who spend hundreds of dollars from their own pocket each year.
- Free online e-cards: There are a bunch of online sites where you can email free e-cards. They have all types of subject matter including holidays, birthdays, congratulations, cheer ups, etc. You can use these with your morale pal or you can send them to anyone who needs a little boost. Many of these cards have fun little cartoons and characters so they will definitely make people smile and laugh.
- Non-traditional Staff Meeting: Instead of the typical sit and listen staff meeting, why not have a crafting session or team game time? A few games of volleyball will loosen everyone up and get out some energy plus it’s fun. If some staff members don’t like to be or can’t be athletic, painting or crafting may be another option. It gives time for staff to be together to just socialize and be a team.
- Morning Coffee: Staff can take turns bringing a box of Joe or other type of coffee for the staff. If you have some non-coffee drinkers on the staff, you can also bring the drinks of their choice. Just this little gesture can really make a staff member’s day. You can even choose days and not tell anyone what days the treat will be there so it’s a little surprise. K cups are great, but some fresh brewed coffee and other morning beverages are even better!
Obviously, it doesn’t take a grand gesture or a lot of money to make others feel good. A kind word, words of appreciation or positive thoughts go a long way to improving morale. Those seemingly small actions will make people feel more invested in their teaching and will encourage them to do a little extra because they know it is appreciated. Try one morale booster or try them all. A positive trend in morale is guaranteed.