Team Building is the key to a successful school.
Do you ever wonder how some schools just have it all together? The teachers look organized, prepared, united and most of all they love coming to work. This "team morale" doesn't just happen. It takes great leaders to make it happen in every school. WSA provides 6 great solutions to help get you started on improving the atomosphere in your school district today.
Being the Leader of the Team
Whether you are the Superintendent, Principal or Dean, you already know the importance of your role. Everyone looks to you for the answers and it can be very overwhelming at times because as we all know you don't always know what the answers are. However, the number one solution to improving team moral and creating a crew that will support one another is for you to stay positive. Always. Always. Always. Look for the good in any situation and go from there. Focus on what your school and all the staff have to offer. Everyone has strenths, even those teachers who are struggling. When you refuse to look at the weaknesses in your campuses, classrooms, and hallways, you will teach your team members to also look for what is right rather than what is wrong. Don't tell them not to do something; instead show them how important positivity is to you. Promote their strengths from the very beginning by allowing them to tell you what they are good at and then use these skills to help your school grow to it's full potential.
Creating the Atmosphere
Google Inc. transformed our idea of what a workplace environment was suppose to look like. They focused on developing a friendly and warm environment for its employees with large incentives that not only focuses on profit but overall development of its employees. Teachers and educational staff chose to work in your school because they love children and want to help them. Period. Giving your staff the motivation to create an environment that everyone wants to work in is the key to the team's success. Look for ways to encourage your team to think outside of the box to make their classrooms, hallways and offices show students, parents and the community how much teaching means to everyone at the school. Create incentives, awards and prizes for those teachers who step up to the challenge. And remember, your staff want to be there so the prizes don't have to break the bank. You are their leader and recognition from you will go a very long way!
Making it FUN
Who wants to work in a place where everyone is miserable? Not me and probably not you or your staff. Superintendents, Principals and leaders who are FUN create a school that is FUN. Instead of seeing you and wishing they had taken the day off, make it a positive encounter. Amazon and Oriental Trading Company are two great companies who provide inexpensive bulk items to hand out as you enter the room full of students. Don't wait until it is teacher appreciation day. Ask a question about a particular subject the kids are learning about and the top 3 answers receive a prize or just their name in the school newsletter. Quiz the teacher in front of the students and when the teacher gets it right, donuts for everyone! Make sure to bring the donuts. When students were asked what was the #1 thing they wanted or needed from school they responded, "MAKE IT FUN!" Students are kids no matter what their age is and kids need to have fun while their learning. And believe it or not, "FUN" is actually great for teachers and educational staff also. When everyone is happy, the day is just that much better!
Beautiful surroundings is Important
No one wants to come into a run down building everyday or a building that is beige! So liven it up and make it a place that you want to show off! This is your building! Start with the outside of the building and work your way inside. Create spaces that are filled with greenery and flowers. Think about the best park you have been to and design a similar environment. Whether you are a student, parent, teacher or community member, a beautiful landscape makes you want to show up everyday and put your best foot forward. Remember, this doesn't have to all be on your shoulders. There are people in your community who love to work with flowers, bushes and landscaping material. Find those people and ask them to volunteer time to your school. Ask them to teach your students and teachers how to create these type of outdoor spaces. Have the newspaper report what is happending so others can get involved. If you are searching for team building ideas, why not play in the dirt together! As you move inside, think about amuzement parks and children museums. What do they look like? Not beige. They are full of color and murals. Paint classroom doors to look like books or poems going up stairs. Design a space that makes everyone happy.
Throw out the old and in with the NEW
If the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is school doesn't always have to work the way it has always worked. We can teach students differently and it will be okay. In fact, it could be better! Encourage your staff to come up with "OUT OF THE BOX" thinking about the way your school will work next year. Will you teach 4 days a week and have virtual Fridays? Will you have lunch outside on the bleachers one day a week? Will you bring in outside career people to volunteer and teach skills that haven't before been offered in the past? Will you create homeroom YOGA/meditation in the morning? Will you use art or music as a way to de-escalate students instead of what you have been doing? Will you release half your teachers early and bring all your students into the gym for a concert/presentation? If you want to create an environment where people want to be then your job is to be creative because no one ever said school has to be done a specific way. Step up to the challenge. Stop doing Professional Development the same way you have always done it. Get out of your routine and be the leader your staff and students need.
Celebrate the Important Stuff
Every school official knows the importance of the student's scores and the impact it makes however it is also important not to lose sight of other things. We not only teach children how to read, write and do arithmetic but we also teach children how to be great adults. How to be kind to one another, how to accept our differences and how to forgive. Don't forget to acknowledge these situations when you or others see them. Let your staff know immediately when they are doing something great. Let students know as soon as you see them being kind. Recognize the cafeteria staff when they make a great meal or when the floors are especially shiny. Acknowledge when teachers go out of their way to make the perfect classroom decor or when the office staff are all working together. As the leader, it is your job to create the environment so everyone else can do their job. A quiet pat on the pack is good but an announcement to everyone is even better. Lead by example. Find what others are doing well and show it off so everyone else can join in on the great behavior. Always focus on what you want; instead of what you don't want and you will soon find yourself in the position of being one of those schools who always have it together.