How do you build up morale in your school for teachers and students? If you want to build morale in your office these ideas work as well. Usually, it takes a lot of time and money and is cute, but it does not last. This has been my experience, it seems, over the years. The administrative team works hard to gather all the items, and teachers appreciate it, but it is not always what they need.

What do teachers and students need? The great idea is to ask them.


Students

Students want you to know them. This builds morale in the most significant and lasting way. When staff can call students by name and have conversations with them, they know you see them, hear them, and are validated.

Having students actively involved in all aspects of the school's decision-making and their learning is another way to build morale. Students will enjoy being active in helping to create incentives for students, developing projects, and knowing the importance of all that is being done. Students can present data, lead peers in positive change and help in communications in understanding the efforts of the school. While building morale, your building learners.

This reminds me of my sayings: Education is something we do with children, not to them.


Staff

Handing out cookies to everyone is a great booster, but what is it telling the individuals you are working to build up? If you are only handing out cookies without anything else to go with it, you are missing the opportunity to lift staff.

Every individual is different and will need other things; the same is for students. However, it is hard to do individual appreciation and motivational stuff without doing it as a group. I have always done group motivational and appreciation, but I back it up throughout all days with individual care.

Morale is a group effort and never rests on the shoulders of one. As a leader, we work closely with the other team leaders in our spaces to let us know when some individuals need personal attention. We can also notice things on our own as well. We all work together to make each day better than the day before.

One of the things everyone needs more of is time. Giving individuals extra time is the best gift you can provide. If you can cover a classroom for 15 minutes, it would be fantastic. What if you could hire some subs to float to cover lunch periods so groups of teachers could have extra time to have lunch together? This is one way to build up morale truly. Have the lunch catered in, or bring in a grill to cook it yourself for them—a great way to bring them all together.


Validation and knowing what they do are essential to building strong positive morale. Helping to get to know each other and learning to have fun while you work is the best way to enjoy the place you work.

If you need help in working on ways to build up your morale, please message me or comment. I can provide you with more ideas to help with your specific situation. There are solutions to every problem we have in life.

You will never change or influence if you always remain the same. So take some risks and be the light to shine bright.

Less than half of middle and high school students say they have an adult at their school they can talk to when they feel upset. Students are facing depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that are holding them back. However, it is not having that needed support like counselors, school social workers, and psychologists who they can speak to at the time they are experiencing their issues that is adding to their problems.

While talking with other Principal Coaches and Mentors, one mentioned how much the jobs of educators seem to be switching to look more like counseling and mental health supporters. Sometimes the principals help staff to find ways to release anxiety.

Finding ways to help students engage in learning and feel a sense of belonging is a big task, not just for a single classroom teacher to do with their students. A school is a community. Presenters often talk about climate and culture, but they speak about bringing staff to the table to discuss how to improve. Many times they also include how to get families more involved or engaged. How about also pulling up some seats for students?

Bringing students to the table to discuss climate and culture is a great way to engage students. In Two Rule Philosophy, the critical element in building a foundation where everyone feels good and safe, students, staff, families, and the community is involved in helping to develop a sense of belonging. Communities can work to bring in organizations to provide those extra resources students seek to support their needs. Working together, we can give so much to enrich our environment.

Please share with us any ideas you have or what you are doing. Thank you for being part of the solution daily.

Well, I tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen,
Pour myself a cup of ambition, Yawn and stretch and try to come to life

Jump in the shower, and the blood starts pumping
Out on the street, the traffic starts jumping
With folks like me on the job from 9 to 5
”~Dolly Parton, 9 to 5 released in 1980. This song received a Grammy for the best country song, and she received a Grammy for the best female performance. The song has gone on to produce a movie, musicals, and so much more!

Going to work each day can be redundant. People can feel isolated. So many other issues, and problems come to mind when I think of all of the issues we face today in our work environments. It seems just getting to work; we may be dodging bullets (literally), arrows, and fear to get through or out of the door to begin our work day.

Dodging Bullets

When I write about dodging bullets today, I can mean literally as our world has turned the corner in becoming more violent with the rise of crime. Neighborhoods and cities which were safe are now becoming unsafe. However, it was not my intent to speak about the increased crime but the trauma behind dodging bullets.

Trauma is more than dodging bullets. The phrase, “I dodged a bullet today,” means you escaped a bad situation or something that would cause harm to you. Many individuals around us, or even ourselves, are dodging bullets daily, weekly, or monthly. The circumstances are different for each of us, but the reality is reflected in the environment we all share. Recovering from a global pandemic, higher costs for everything we need, shortages of products, a rise in crime, and the unknowns.

As leaders, we must consider dodging bullets with our staff and arrange a time to address ways to find support solutions.

Arrows

Arrows have sharp points and are shot to have a direct hit at the bullseye. My husband is a great shot! So are those who shoot targeted arrows of negativity at their co-workers. The craft of arrow shooting is spot on when a toxic environment exists within your culture. Individuals have practiced arrow shooting for a long time.

Toxic cultures begin with one. Once they have achieved the arrow shooting with precision with no repercussions, others notice and start to join because of fear. This is when the toxic culture grows, and fear sets in as others remain quiet.

As leaders, we must recognize when these sharp points begin to surface and address them by reminding staff of our core values and beliefs.

Fear

Did you know fear is how people can control you? Fear is an emotion. It is our most powerful emotion and is our defense mechanism. When you are told something over and over, shown something repeatedly and when people you feel are in leadership positions tell you something, fear begins to take hold. Now they have power over you.

Bullying is like this for children. I often tell children and teachers not to give away their power. Power is what everyone seeks. There are lots of steps to take when dealing with bullying, but ultimately it is about placing fear to gain control over you. Children also like to see how far they can go in the classroom to gain more power as well. Why have the power struggle?

We all have fear; it is an emotion to warn us of danger. Fear is a needed emotion but not one we want to get out of control. When our fears overcome us, we have anxiety which can lead to more health-related issues. In the workplace, fear is something we need to address. People should not be fearful.

As leaders, we need to work to help all members of our teams to feel good and safe about being in our workplace environment.

S.O.S

Setting up a System of Support is a great way to help the culture of your work environment address trauma and issues faced.

The system of support will not look the same in every workplace. The framework will be the same, but the elements inside will vary based on the needs and wants of the team. Remember to listen to all voices and pay attention to those dominating conversations; you need all agents.

Framework of S.O.S

SYSTEM:

OF:

SUPPORT:

Taking action steps to help teams dodge bullets and arrows from the past and present to avoid fears today and tomorrow will improve our teams. Let’s become bulletproof on our way to conquering fear and overcoming all the arrows shot in our direction. I can’t, you can’t, but we can be the solution daily in a world that needs us!

As a Nation, we have faced many challenges and overcome many obstacles. Throughout history I have been amazed by the many stories of courageous men and women who have exceeded expectations. I have been blessed to meet individuals who have survived being captured as a prisoner of war, a woman who survived the Holocaust to teach me lessons, and those who have survived trauma words could not describe.

A poem written by Charle Osgood called Pretty Good is something I have shared before, but something I feel we should look at again as we have a “quiet quitting” going on right now. I wonder what the individuals I have met who survived horrific traumas would think? They have since passed on to the next life journey, but it is something I wish I could ask them.


Quiet Quitting

“Quiet Quitting” became the next phase after the “Great Resignations.”

The pandemic caused a lot of people to reevaluate their lives. They looked at what they were doing with their jobs. MagnifyMoney a personal finance site reported roughly 1 in 3 workers considered leaving their jobs and 60% were rethinking their careers.

The lockdowns had many working from home and they did not want to go back to commuting, preferred the flexibility of remote work and wanted to at least consider doing a combination of both. Others were burned out or what I call, “Drainout” after trying to balance logging in long hours, child care, remote school and balancing all of life at the same time.

Quiet Quitting is doing the bare minimum at work. It’s doing only what is required of you without actually telling your boss you are leaving or quitting your job. It means you are finishing your work on time every day, you are taking lunch breaks and scheduled breaks, you turn down projects that are outside of your job, do not sign up for extra duties and stay within your area. Does this sound like it is a bad idea? Experts provide their opinions on the subject and I have mine as well.


I grew up watching my parents work very hard for everything they had, but also how generous they were to give to others who were in need. My parents faced many challenges to try to overcome in order to succeed in day to day life. All of this was etched into my heart and soul as I grew to know, working hard and to never settle was the way we did things.

As an educator, a poem found it’s way into my life that described to me the perfect lesson we all needed. We need to always remember, pretty good is not what we strive for in our work, life or country. “When doing arithmetic problems, Pretty good was regarded as fine. 5+5 needn’t always add up to be 10; A pretty good answer was 9.” If we settled for “Pretty Good” we would never be complete.

Pretty Good Poem by Charle Osgood is one of those poems I love to look back at to remind myself to never settle for “Pretty Good.” Always strive to be great at what we do. It is not how much money we make, it is not in the awards we receive or the validation we may be given. The value in what we do is what we give to it as we see, know and feel in watching, knowing and believing what will happen because of the actions we took.

“There once was a pretty good nation
Pretty proud of the greatness it had,
Which learned much too late,
If you want to be great,
Pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.”

There is a great deal we can do as we work to bring together our teams as we continue to lead through and out of the traumatic crisis experienced by all of our communities.

The first step is to look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which had served us since 1943 when he developed his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation" in the journal Psychological Review.

We have many needs to meet in our life. Some are essential to our everyday safety and wellness. Other needs in our life we work to achieve. One of the critical factors necessary to schools and classrooms is a sense of belonging.

A strong culture makes what we do worth doing and determines where we choose to stay, even when the work is hard, and not everything is perfect. Culture nurtures our need for belonging and is often overlooked, taken for granted, and sometimes lost when not prioritized.

Culture is not a mystery to us as leaders. We know it is a vital element of our organization and needs to be supported. Individuals within an organization share a common purpose and core values. Expectations are clear. Ideas are always welcomed, shared, and valued. In a positive culture, individual and team contributions are recognized, and collaboration is essential. Routines, traditions, and practices communicate connections, build a sense of identity, help all feel as if they belong, and make the work feel like more than just a job.

How do you help others feel like they belong in your organization? What do you do to belong in your organization? A sense of belonging is vital to each individual within your organization and your team. When an individual does not feel like they belong, a breakdown begins. It does not take long for a positive culture to turn toxic if others start to feel they do not belong, do not connect, and are not validated.

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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