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.


image courtesy of

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.


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