15 Ideas for Improving Teacher Morale from Teaching in the Fast Lane

This post originally appeared on the blog Teaching in the Fast Lane.

Teacher morale is an important part of the school community. Teachers are unique; we’re used to fending for ourselves and pulling ourselves out of even the deepest of funks. This doesn’t mean we don’t like a little morale booster from time to time.
Most of these ideas can be used for an individual teacher in need of a little uplift, a team, or the whole school.
First, let me say there are a few rules I propose:
  1. 1. Teachers like a little bit of cheese, but not a lot.
  2. 2. Keep it simple. There is no need to move mountains.
  3. 3. Most teachers want to know you care.

Without further adieu, I bring you the list (drum roll, please):

1. Bring a Coworker Lunch

Get your own ultimate list to building teacher morale I mean seriously, who doesn’t like being brought lunch? It doesn’t have to be anything difficult. I have always been a big fan of leftovers for lunch, and sometimes you have more than you and your family can eat. Why not bring an extra to surprise your coworker with?

Another route I loved to take was to order pizza for the team. This surprise was always met with smiles, and bonus, I didn’t have to pack a lunch either.


2. Clean a Common Area

Some of our common areas (think the staff fridge or microwave) are in desperate need of some love. Take a few minutes to clean the space, and I promise it will be noticed. 
On this note, we had a couple of teachers at our school who took it upon themselves to bring ice from the cafeteria to the lounge each morning. This task, while it seemed trivial to them, made our lives SO much easier, and was truly appreciated.

3. Random Contests

Teachers by nature are also competitive, and who doesn’t a little competition? These competitions don’t have to be anything special, but they should be tailored to the people you are trying to reach. 
Our campus had MANY step competitions, whether they be a single day, week, or month long competitions. Most of us were wearing Fitbits anyway, so it fits. Most of the time the prize would be a silly certificate or a candy bar; nothing over the top.

4. Chocolate

I mean, do I need to explain this one?


5. Out of School Get Together

It is vital we get out of the school building. My team and I had a standing date for “choir practice” every Friday after school. We didn’t make it every week, but we did make it more often than not. 
By having this standing date, it encouraged us to get our stuff done and leave to begin our weekends, which is always a morale booster.

6. Notes of Appreciation

Handwritten notes are my love language. I love them. I hoard them. I write them to others. 

A personalized note of appreciation can mean the world. I was always an especially big fan when the note was related to something we had previously discussed. This is a great way to show others you are listening and you care.


7. Sweat Together

A little sweat, or a lot in my case, is good for you. Invite your coworkers to go for an after school walk, or start a workout club together. Endorphins are our friends.


8. Celebration or Brag Board

If you have some space in a staff area whether it be the lounge, workroom, or even a meeting room, set up a place where your staff can brag about one another. Everyone loves to be celebrated, and a Brag Board is a great way to simply accomplish this.

Our admin would occasionally choose an appropriate celebration and add it to the morning announcements for a little extra love.

9. Snacks 

A little snack in the workroom goes a long way. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Popcorn, pretzels, M&Ms, or anything else you know your team will love. 
My principal knew Dr. Pepper was my weakness, so when she wanted to thank me for something she would write me a little sticky note and put it and a Dr. Pepper in my mailbox. It made my day every single time.

10. Potlucks

Potlucks are a little tricky because they can be fun, but you have to make sure they aren’t viewed as “one more thing” on teachers’ to-do list. Our school PTA would often provide the main dish and then we brought sides and desserts. It made it easy.

11. Jeans Passes

I firmly believe I am a better teacher when I am wearing jeans. Moving on…

12. A Little Break

15 ideas to improve morale at your school. The last one is the most vital!One year, our admin surprised each of us with a 20-minute break in which they did a read aloud with our class right before the winter break when we were all running a little ragged. This small act was so appreciated by everyone. It truly is one of the times I felt the most love.

13. Compliments

A little compliment goes a long way. Compliments are especially great when they are focused on an area of growth. If you know someone is challenged by something and you notice they are doing it well, let them know it! 
As teachers, we are so used to filling our students’ buckets with compliments, but sometimes we forget about one another.

14. Gift Exchanges

I am an especially big fan of the Secret Santa or secret Valentine or secret anything format in which you get a little gift each day for a week and then the big reveal. I always feel so cared for during these exchanges because the person giving the gift puts a lot of effort into tailoring the gifts to the recipient.

15. Respect Their Time

The absolute best way I have ever encountered to improve morale is to genuinely respect teachers and their time. We are all overworked and overwhelmed, so don’t add anything extra to our already overflowing plates. 
The absolute best is when usually obligatory items get canceled such as staff meetings or an after hours event. Respecting our time is truly the way to respect us the most. 
Here's a printable (or downloadable) list of the 15 ideas to improve teacher morale

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Headshot of Alyssa, of Teaching in the Fast LaneAlyssa’s teaching experience includes six years of 4th grade in Texas. Her goals when designing resources are to provide rigorous classroom activities that engage students and make teacher’s lives easier. She also loves to read, and races cars as a hobby. Check out her store on TeachersPayTeachers or connect on Facebook or Pinterest.