I’m worried about the morale of teachers. Just quietly, many of them are NOT happy! They may not say that openly to the Principal or other school leaders but many are feeling unhappy and frustrated. They often vent to their partners, their colleagues and even to strangers in social settings.
Unhappy teachers often present a nice façade and respond with the usual pleasantries however, scratch the surface and they are unhappy and frustrated.
At their best, staff who are unhappy will do what is required but won’t bring the passion, energy and commitment that a happy staff member brings. At their worst, an unhappy staff member is toxic, will undermine change initiatives and sabotage the good things that are happening in your school.
The challenges of staff engagement do not only apply to leaders in schools. Research from across many industries indicate that only about one in three employees are ENGAGED (36%) and nearly one in five are actually DISENGAGED (17%).
If you’d like a copy of my research on “Staff Morale and Engagement in Schools – What School Leaders Can Do to Maximise Staff Effectiveness”, send me an email.
Who would you like teaching YOUR students, a teacher who is engaged in their work, passionate and enthusiastic or someone who is ‘going through the motions’, is aggrieved and doesn’t see they have any other alternatives?
As leaders in schools it is up to us to do EVERYTHING WE can to engage our staff and keep them happy. One of our roles is to remove barriers that stop our staff being as effective as they possibly can be.
Does your staff have the right resources to do their job?
Do we use time and money effectively and efficiently?
Are the school communication channels working effectively?
Through removing barriers we can bring on-board the remaining 47% (almost half the workforce) who are neither engaged nor completely disengaged. I suspect they may be the ones “just going through the motions”.
Do you know what the barriers are from your staff’s perspective?
What would you need to do to keep your staff happy?
What problems get in the way of doing their job well?
How could you help them get more satisfaction and be more engaged?
Many schools undertake Staff Opinion Surveys as a means of gauging staff morale. Often this can be the only time that staff can vent to those they see as being in leadership positions. However the results from most opinion surveys lack clarity and fail to identify specific areas that need to be resolved or addressed. Often the surveys ONLY provide data. This data is often misinterpreted and can also be deflected to the government authority or the School Board.
School staff opinion surveys ONLY provide data and do not provide any real, specific direction for the school’s leadership team on the issues that staff are identifying.
In response to the limitations of a survey that only provides data and doesn’t provide any specific guidance or direction, I have developed Happy School Staff Surveys. The survey is INTERACTIVE and on-line. It provides specific feedback for the school leadership team on emerging issues within the school. The format will be especially helpful to Principals in not only measuring staff morale but also identifying specific areas of concern. It could be used as part of a school review process or once a semester to measure progress.
If you’d like to find out more about Happy School Staff Surveys, send me an email and I’ll send you further information and a link to try the instrument yourself.
Do YOUR Staff KNOW How Much You Appreciate Them?
Job satisfaction is a key driver for staff engagement. The four key factors for job satisfaction are:-
- My work is important
- I make a difference though my work
- I am good at my job and
- What I do is appreciated
Most teachers in most schools would confidently answer YES to the first two statements but many would find the final two a little more difficult to answer. Many teachers don’t receive enough feedback and often they don’t feel their work is appreciated.
Developing a culture of providing feedback to teachers is a priority for a lot of schools and a variety of approaches have been developed around the world. This is an area that we provide a lot of professional development and support.
Last week I was fortunate to be invited to the ENABLE Recognition Breakfast. It is an excellent example of schools undertaking a specific strategy to recognise and show appreciation for the great work of their staff.
ENABLE is a coalition of 13 State High Schools from the Logan-Albert, Beaudesert and Boonah areas of Education Queensland’s South East Region. In the final week of each term the ENABLE cluster of schools meet for the Recognition breakfast. Each of the 13 Principals invites up to five staff to be recognised at the event. Each school has a process for selecting their teachers, teacher aides, office staff, cleaners or school leaders to attend.
As well as a nice, sit down breakfast and a short presentation by a guest speaker, the Principal of each school talks about the members of staff they are recognising and presents them with a certificate. You could see each of the recipients glowing with pride as the Principal says a few words about the contribution they have made to the school.
I believe the power of the ENABLE cluster’s strategy comes from making it a regular combined event (that makes it more special than an in school event), the personal touch of the Principal personally and publicly acknowledging the staff member and the valuing of the staff through sharing breakfast at a nice venue.
Whilst the event isn’t extravagant, I am certain it is an EXCELLENT investment in the most important factor in a school’s success, the staff. The ENABLE cluster are to be commended for their initiative and commitment.
Happy School Professional Development Webinars
The next Happy School Webinar is titled “Uncovering the REAL Barriers to Staff Engagement in Schools” and will be held on July 30 from 11:00am through to 11:30am. Click here to register for the webinar. Happy School Webinars are provided each term. They are provided FREE for schools who subscribe to receive Happy School Articles.
Attitude is Everything – Middle Years Program
The response to our middle years program, “Attitude is Everything” has been great. The stand-alone program of lessons is presented in a ready-to-use workbook. The program was co-written by Bruce Sullivan and Steve Francis to help staff in schools foster a more positive attitude in middle years students.
Happy School Staff articles this month include…
- Are you suffering decition fatigue
- The Pygmailion Effect – Part 1 by Karen Boyes
- The Pygmailion Effect – Part 2 by Karen Boyes
- Beware the little voice inside your head!
- Little acts of kindness
Professional development sessions for your staff are available on a range of topics ideal for student free day’s or after school sessions. Email to check availability of your preferred date.
Which topic does your team need most?
Increasing WORK-LIFE Satisfaction
Working in schools can be challenging. A happy staff achieves better results. It is vital that staff in schools get satisfaction from the important work we do. Thinking of our happiness in terms of ‘balance’ leads us to think that we have to ‘balance out’ the time or energy that we spend at work with the time and energy we put into the rest of our lives. This adds to our stress! We need to get satisfaction from both our work and the rest of our lives. It is essential that we focus on what is REALLY important in our lives. This IS your REAL life – it isn’t a dress rehearsal.
Building Trust – Essential Skills
Trust is at the heart of all relationships. Trust impacts on us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It impacts on the quality of every relationship, every communication, every workplace and every organisation. Building Trust is vital! Stephen Covey’s 13 behaviours that build trust are simple, straight forward and immediately transferable to schools. They apply at all levels. Having good intentions is not enough. It is behaviour that counts!
The one constant in the world today is change! Ultimately our response to change is dependent on our attitude AND we CHOOSE our attitude.Our people need to be positive, optimistic and energetic. In this session I’ll help staff in schools to develop the right attitude. I identify the three biggest obstacles to successful change and the specific strategies needed to overcome these challenges. A positive attitude is essential to success.
Gr8 People are Part of Gr8 Teams
There are 10 vital attributes that are necessary in all teams within schools. For a team to reach their potential each individual needs to make their contribution and that contribution needs to be aligned with the school’s direction and priorities. The better that people work together and are aligned, the better outcomes the school will achieve.
Which of the attributes do your teams do well and which ones need to be improved? Establishing clear and agreed priorities, in simple language is essential.
Feedback – Helping Teachers Be the Best They Can Be
School audits highlighted the need for many schools to establish processes for providing feedback to teachers as a vital aspect of improved performance in schools. However giving teacher’s feedback is not part of the culture in most schools. In this session we look at why feedback is so important, consider a range of options and develop an action plan for establishing a feedback culture.
7 Secrets of Motivating and Engaging Students
(PS…they work for the teachers too!!)
Motivating and engaging students can be challenging. Many students have short concentration spans, are disinterested and disengaged from learning. Teaching is more demanding than ever before! Traditional carrot and stick approaches have limited effect. Ultimately we can’t MAKE anybody DO something. In this session I’ll share the 7 secrets that teachers must implement to motivate and engage their students. All teachers can implement these practical, well-grounded strategies to improve their students’ attitude.
Conferences and Work With Schools
In coming monthis I’m looking forward to working with…
- School leadership teams in a number of schools including Wynnum Manly cluster
- Year 8 and 9 students at Sacred Heart College, Geelong
- Year 12 students at Grace Lutheran College
- School staff at Grovely and Windsor State Schools and Sacred Heart College
- School leaders in Townsville and Alice Springs for full day programs on Establishing a Feedback Culture
- School Business Managers at their conference on the Gold Coast
- Parents and school leaders in Melbourne with Michael Grose
If you’d like me to present at your conference or work with your staff, email me firstname.lastname@example.org