Technology is meant to help us but that isn’t always the case. Improvements in technology mean that we can be ‘connected’ 24/7. The busyness and demands on leaders in schools today result in many staff feeling that they have to access their school email from home each night.
Many staff (not just Principals) report that they need to access their email just to feel “on top of things” and able to cope with the load.
This great article from the Gallup group asks an interesting question, “Should Employers Ban Email After Work Hours?”
In the article they report nearly all full-time U.S. workers (96%) have access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet, and 86% use a smartphone or tablet or both. A full two-thirds of Americans report that the amount of work they do outside normal working hours has increased a little to a lot because of mobile technology advances over the last decade. I’m sure that the statistics in Australia would be similar.
The ease with which we can “keep people in the loop” by having them on a discussion list or simply including them in CC or BCC, also adds to the volume of messages people receive.
However it isn’t just the volume of messages received that is significant. Email as a mode of communication creates a sense of urgency and expectation.
We expect people to not only respond to our email message, we expect them to respond quickly. This creates a sense of urgency and expectation and requires us to constantly review our priorities and use of time.
Be alert – email is addictive. We want to feel included, informed and connected. However this can make it difficult for us to ‘switch off’ and can add to our stress.
Whilst I believe there is a need for addressing the problem, banning email after hours seems draconian. Instead of schools trying to implement policies and procedures I’d recommend individuals take the following actions:-
Put boundaries around your after hours work email use eg if you need to access email after hours then set a limit eg 30 minutes per week night and one hour on Saturday (the amount of time varies from person to person). The intent is to put a boundary or limit to the activity, as email will fill whatever time we allow it.
Schedule a maximum of four times per day to access email. Only access your email during this time and ensure that you have scheduled enough time to both read AND respond to the email. Accessing your email multiple times during the day is inefficient. It can lead to you having to reread the messages and splits your attention away from the task you were completing to the ‘new’ priority.
Establishing school protocols for who to CC and BCC on email and how you handle group emails.
Did You Get a Great Response to YOUR Handwritten Postcards Last year?
I’m passionate about reinstating the status of teachers and boosting morale in schools. A great place to start is in-house! I’ve encouraged school leaders to write a hand written postcard to personally recognise each of their staff on World Teachers’ Day (October 31 in Australia).
The response in the first two years has been great with many Principals reporting that their staff were delighted to receive the handwritten postcard through the post, at their home (yes snail mail). The prevalence of email has led to us rarely receiving anything but bills through the post. Receiving a hand written message, at home, shows that the leaders have gone to an effort to appreciate their staff.
This Happy School program started in 2012 with 9550 teachers across Australia receiving handwritten postcards from their Principal. The response grew to 11700 last year. It would be fantastic if 15000 teachers across Australia received a handwritten card from their Principal this year.
If you participated last year and got a great response there are two steps I’d love you to take – contact us to order your postcards for this year (they are FREE for Happy School members!) and share the idea by letting a colleague at another school know.
Postcards are available free of charge to Happy School members and at a $1 per card for other schools. If your school isn’t a Happy School member, there hasn’t been a better time to join. Not only will you get a great weekly article to share with your staff to boost staff morale and reduce teacher stress, you’ll also get the postcards for FREE. Email me for further details at email@example.com
Apps Teachers Are Using
The increased use of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has contributed to a number of Apps being utilsed by teachers. This great article highlights the use of Remind, ClassDojo, QR Code Readers, Twitter and Socrative by teachers. Well worth a read!
Another article that is a worthwhile read is 55 Best Free Education Apps For iPad.
This Month’s Happy School articles include:
- Remaining Positive (Ken Warren)
- To CC or Not to CC
- How to rewire your burned out brain by Judy Willis part 1
- How to rewire your burned out brain by Judy Willis part 2
- 100 Years From now…
Subscribe now and join the 560 schools who are already boosting staff morale and reducing teacher stress as members of Happy School. Reply to this email and ask us to set up your membership. It costs less than ONE supply teacher day!
Conferences and Work With Schools
This month I’m looking forward to working with:
- Stanmore Public School staff PD
- Coomera Springs SS leaders
- North Arm SS cluster staff PD
- WA School Business Managers
- Fraser Coast Principals
- Sunshine Coast HOC conference
- Highland Reserve SS leaders
- St Mary’s Mackay staff PD
- SBMAQ webinars
- QASSP webinars
I’d be happy to talk with you about the professional development needs of your leadership team or whole staff.
How Is Your Staff Morale?
The fastest way to improve your school and boost staff satisfaction is to identify and address the problems that annoy and frustrate people. SurveyMySchool has been specifically designed to support the leadership team to IMPROVE schools. The interactive format of the surveys identifies specific issues and potential solutions.
SurveyMySchool is far more useful than school opinion surveys that only provides data. Whilst having data is a good start, data alone can be misinterpreted and isn’t helpful in addressing people’s specific concerns.
SurveyMySchool is interactive. Respondents who express dissatisfaction with an aspect of the school are asked clarifying questions to provide further detail about their specific concern and potential solutions. The survey report provides useful information to inform school planning, improve the school and increase the satisfaction of staff.
Contact us to set up a survey of staff, parents and/or students.
If you’d like me to present at your conference or work with your staff, email me firstname.lastname@example.org