As teachers, we look out for the morale and well-being of the children in our care everyday. However, there is a growing awareness that we neglect to look after our own well-being as teachers.
We started the year well, but pressures mount quickly, and by the time half term was approaching, we were concerned about morale within school. So, as an SLT, we took several steps to try to boost our morale and show our staff how much we value them. We had a niggle box in the staff room for a month (October became Moan-tober). At the end of October, we addressed the niggle box concerns and put some new ideas in place. We started to provide free tea, coffee, sugar and milk for everyone and we provided pizza or vegetarian curry (school is just at the end of the fabulous Golden Mile!) at all our twilight meetings. We started to look again at our marking policy, as this was an area of concern from a work load and expectations point of view.
We also started a Staff Shout Out board. From an idea I saw on Twitter, we transformed a large notice board that is in between our staff toilets and the staff room and isn’t seen by children (except for a few brave Eco Warriors that come to empty the staff room recycling bin!). it has several sections:
- We have a list of birthdays each month that includes everyone – cleaners, lunchtime supervisors, TAs, teachers and admin staff.
- Staff nights out, or other social activities (for example, someone has just suggested we start a book club).
- Funny things overheard in the playground.
- The main area is given over to post-it notes (a ready supply with pens is kept in a box on the board) that people can use to send a shout out to someone else.
So far, it has been very well used! I’ve had to clear post-it notes off the board every month otherwise it would be so stuffed full no-one would be able to see anything. Messages range from saying thank you for holding a door open when someone had their arms full, congratulating staff that have got engaged, count downs to the holidays and thanking people for their support when staff have returned from long term sick leave. It makes people smile as they go up to the staff room and I make sure that everyone gets to keep the post-its about them when I take them down.
It is the little acts of kindness that remind us what a tough job we do and that we all deserve a break now and then! My next challenge is to keep it going with the enthusiasm that we begun. I’ve noticed the frequency of post-its has slowed over the last half term, so if you have any ideas about how it can become more sustainable, let me know!