Revitalizing Staff Morale Using the SNAIL Method-Part Two

This post is the second in a five-part series.

In my first post I shared the five components of the SNAIL Method of revitalizing staff morale.  For this post I will offer my thoughts on the second component.

Stand up and take pride in our profession

Never pass up the opportunity to show appreciation

Acknowledge when things aren’t working and develop a new plan

Ignite a spirit of collaboration not competition

Let go of old hurts or jealousies

image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

Never pass up the opportunity to show appreciation

Showing appreciation really does go a long way.  Whether it’s taking the time to express your thanks to a colleague for getting the copies you forgot, helping them out when they have an emergency, or just being there when you need to vent.  Knowing that you are valued and appreciated can take a staff through the hard times and uncertainty of change. By showing appreciation to your fellow staff members, you can better foster that spirit of team and community.  You are more willing to help someone who says thank you for the little things as well as the big things.  However, I value most the appreciation that is given with no expectation of recognition.  After all, you didn’t really help someone out for the recognition did you?

How can an administrator show appreciation to the staff?  First of all, don’t wait until Teacher Appreciation Week, and worse yet, don’t let that week go by without acknowledging it as well.  Show appreciation to the individual, not just a blanket statement to the staff. This can also occur during a walk through.   I’m one of those teachers who don’t mind my principal or learning coach dropping into my room unannounced.  Hey, I’ve even invited them in so that they could either support my students in something they were proud of, or to offer feedback on a strategy that I’ve been implementing and not quite sure how it’s really going.  When you do come in be sure to leave some sort of feedback.  It doesn’t need to be long.  Just a quick email, a message on Voxer, or a note left on the desk or in their mailbox.  The point is those small gestures go a long way, especially in the event you have to ask your staff to do things that add to their already full plates.  It’s no different from sending home positive messages to our students and parents, and then if one day we have to discuss something unpleasant we’ve already laid the groundwork for a positive relationship.  In addition, when you know a staff member took on an extra duty or covered for another teacher, especially if they did it without even being asked, show them that they are appreciated.  Again, never underestimate the power of simply letting someone know they are appreciated.

On the flip side, teachers and staff need to show appreciation to their administrators as well.  They often have a lonely job where they have to make decisions that are not always popular.  Take the time to let them know that while you may not always agree, you appreciate that they took the time to explain the situation and even include you in the decision making.  If you see there was extra help needed in the cafeteria or even coverage for a teacher and the administrator covered it, let them know how you were impressed by that and you appreciate them.  It doesn’t have to be a super big deal, but rather an acknowledgement that it meant something to you.

Finally, don’t forget the appreciation staff show to each other.  Too often we take each other for granted.  It’s not on purpose, we’re just so accustomed to colleagues who always pitch in and help, often without even being asked.  Take them time to say thank you and let them know you truly value them.  I am blessed to have worked on some amazing teams that all it took was a text saying I needed help because of an unexpected illness, and they jumped into action.  Our building is much the same way, someone needs something and you’ll find multiple offers of help roll in.  While no one is doing these things because they expect a thank you, all the same a simple thank you goes a long way in fostering that giving spirit.

So, if you want to build morale, never pass up the opportunity to show appreciation.  You spend so much time together, take care of each other.

Revitalizing Staff Morale Using the SNAIL Method-Part One

I know it’s summer break and I should just be relaxing.  However, I can never fully disengage from teaching.  I’m always looking to the next year and how I can make my teaching better.  Whether it be reading a professional book, building a brand new unit, tweaking an existing one, or self-reflection.

This coming school year holds many changes for our staff.  We will  have a new principal, school improvement specialist, and at last count seven teachers and support staff new to our building.  While change can be quite unsettling to some, it also brings with it the opportunity for improvement.  With the kind of turnover my building has experienced in the last five years, morale has taken a dip.  Thankfully our commitment to our students remains high.  I believe we can use this latest change to bring about the opportunity to repair or revitalize our morale.

This series of five posts are my thoughts as to do how we can accomplish this. I’m calling it the SNAIL method as snails carry the weight of their homes, not unlike our school, on their backs.  They work hard to get to where they are going, yet don’t move so fast that they miss out on the opportunity to observe what’s going on around them.

snail-582203_1280

image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

Stand up and take pride in our profession

Never pass up the opportunity to show appreciation

Acknowledge when things aren’t working and develop a new plan

Ignite a spirit of collaboration not competition

Let go of old hurts or jealousies

Stand Up and Take Pride in Our Profession

I believe that all the negativity in the press and even among our own colleagues can drive down staff morale quickly. Standing up for our profession makes one feel empowered, rather than a victim.  This does not mean you have to attend rallies if that’s not your cup of tea or engage in heated debates about teaching.  It really just means presenting yourself as a professional.  Show your excitement about teaching.  Join a professional organization.  Have a positive and professional social media presence.  Contact legislators on legislation that harms students and teachers.  Don’t say, ” Oh, I’m just a teacher.”  Rather, “I am a teacher!”

Another way to stand up for your profession is during professional development.   When you are at a meeting or in-service pay attention and be polite.  No matter if you feel the presenter is less than engaging, you feel you already know the information, or you just plain don’t want to be there.  Decide to find one positive or take-away from the experience. Believe me, I’ve been there and looking back am not always proud of how I or my colleagues have acted.  I often tell my students that boredom is a choice.  So is a negative attitude at these meetings.  Sure, we all hear something at a meeting or presentation, and it sparks an idea of how we could implement or tweak it.  Human nature is that you want to share immediately with the friend sitting next to you.  It’s also human nature to complain about the meeting to that same friend sitting next to you. However, think of the presenter.  Is it their first time presenting?  Is this something they were just told to do and are really uncomfortable or nervous about doing it?  Are we tuning out because we’re not particularly fond of the presenter?  Administration also needs to stand up for the profession.  When staff are not behaving well at these meetings, give them the opportunity to change their behavior, if they don’t then call them out on it. It doesn’t need to be a public shaming, but could be addressed privately.  Find out why it is they are acting the way they are.  However, if we truly want there to be a change we have to be willing to address our colleagues and let them know that we are trying to get something out of the meeting and need to be able to hear.  Behavior that is allowed will continue to fester and harm staff morale.  It doesn’t just affect the person presenting, but also those who are trying to get something out of it.

So, as you look forward to the next school year think about how you can stand up for your chosen profession.  It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, but rather a series of small actions that lead up to a positive change.

Next post in the series will be N-Never pass up the opportunity to show appreciation.