This post originally appeared on the blog The Counseling Teacher.
Like a beautiful campfire, staff morale needs to be monitored and stoked to keep the happy fires burning. It’s no secret that teachers are over worked and sometimes under-appreciated. For most teachers, it’s the little things that keep them going. Principals, administrators, school counselors, and parents can work together to create a positive school climate by paying attention to teacher well-being and being mindful of the incredible stress placed on them.
What Teachers REALLY Want
There never seems to be enough hours in the day in the life of an educator. Respect a teacher’s time by cancelling meetings that could be an email. Treat their planning time as sacred. In a perfect world, there would be fewer meetings, few evaluations, and less paperwork.
Recognize teachers with a bulletin board of acknowledgements or send around a binder to be passed from teacher to teacher with positive notes to each other. Organize a teacher-of-the-week program to reward teachers who are nominated by peers for going that extra mile. Acknowledge staff birthdays on the intercom, with a hand written note, and/or a treat. Grown ups are never too old to celebrate their special day. Check out this “Shout-outs Binder.
Occasionally place candy, a small treat, or coupons in a teacher’s mailbox. Another fun way to pass out treats is to create a cart full of goodies that you roll around the school on random days.
Just like the students, teachers appreciate being noticed when they are going that extra mile. Make it a point to say something positive to teachers face to face or on a note left on their desk.
5. Student Thank-you Cards
Organize a time for students to create thank you cards for their teachers. Guide students on how to make a thoughtful letter. Have students brainstorm the good things that their teachers do for them.
Bling the lounge with funny posters, or play a game during a faculty meeting that makes everyone laugh. Don’t be so serious all of the time. Admit your own faults and laugh at your mistakes with teachers. Leave silly signs in the restrooms and other surprise locations.
Provide times for staff gatherings outside of school or arrange a pot luck during the school day. Play games that start conversations and create laughter and release from stress. These task cards ask silly “would you rather do this or that” questions.
8. Jeans Days
Allow dress down days as often as possible. Teachers are busy and need to be comfortable to function at their best.
Trust them to do their jobs. Micromanaging can lead to hurt feelings. These are professionals who worked hard to get their degrees. They certainly aren’t doing it for the money. Let them be.
10. Self Care Reminders
Continue to remind staff in fun ways that they need to be taking care of themselves. Teacher burnout is a real problem. You could organize a self- care week at school and find local businesses willing to give coupons for spas and other health services. One of the faves at our school are the free massages in the lounge by a local chiropractor. See my post on hosting a self-care week.
11. A Break from the Classroom
Get creative in covering their classrooms for an occasional extended lunch or restroom break. I mean, how much is it to ask to be able to go to the restroom when nature calls?
12. Feeling Valued
Ask for teacher feedback on upcoming events and school-wide policies. Include teacher representatives in some administrative meetings. Have a feedback box for anonymous suggestions.
I am currently a Middle School Counselor in Germantown, TN. My counseling department was recently awarded the RAMP award for excellence in school counseling from the American School Counseling Association (ASCA). I have also been an elementary and middle school teacher for several years. My resources are created to be engaging and to empower students to become the best version of themselves through social emotional skills.