We’re three quarters of the way done with the school year. It’s mandated high stakes testing time. Staff is feeling overwhelmed, fatigued and unsupported. As a result student referrals are up, we’re getting more and more students sent through the disciplinary process, and there are more snide comments and side looks then at anytime of the year. These 3 strategies will help ease the burnout and keep staff engaged.
Take a look at your school calendar. Ask yourself what events will create more stress for teachers. Anything that is outside the regular school day norm are good events for you to stop in and show your face and smile. Your presence at these types of unstructured, non routine events will help ease tensions. The adults will feel supported as you work your way through the student body making commentary and redirecting behaviors before they escalate. Being strategic about these supportive visits will ensure that you’re not overtaxed yourself.
Surprise Community Building
Find a time in the final quarter to do a couple of community building activities. Scrap one of your staff meetings and bring in ice cream and sundae fixings. Discuss the wins of the school year and all the great things that have been accomplished so far. Provide an opportunity for staff members to give kudos to each other for their hard work. I recently made breakfast for the staff before a professional development and the time shared eating was just as beneficial. This type of community building will help energize and reduce the fatigue of staff.
Lead the disengagement
Demonstrate through your own actions that you believe they should have time for themselves. Don’t send or answer emails over the weekend. The work will be there when they get back. Staff won't believe you when you tell them not to take their work home all the time if that’s what you’re doing. Have conversations with them and let them know that you don’t expect that work to be done over the weekend. There will still be staff that works over the weekend, but if they know it’s not expected that alone will help them feel less overwhelmed.
Staff is overwhelmed, fatigued and burnt out. Planning a support strategy over the final weeks, creating opportunities for the staff to get together and share success and leading the disengagement from work will help keep your staff engaged.
It’s February in Michigan but in 2017 that doesn’t mean it’s particularly cold. Today the sun was shining and the wind was blowing hard enough to knock out our phone lines. The students had finished up their lunches in the all purpose room and had made it outside. Some students were huddling in small groups laughing and talking and others were swinging on the swings or throwing a football around. I was watching them for a second when I remarked to the secretary, I love our kids.
The students are easily the brightest spot of this job. It never ceases to inspire me when I see them learning. My students deal with a tremendous amount of hardship, heartache, family, peer and even community drama. Despite this they continue to come to school (mostly :-) ) and put their best foot forward. It amazes me when I see them overcome their personal troubles as they work to get an education. One of the most important things that I learned from them is that my own kids will be okay. If my students can survive and thrive under some of their circumstances my children will be alright if all I’m worried about are D’s and E’s and the occasionally teenage rebellion.
My staff is also remarkable. Everyday they bring the best they have and pour it into our students. By the end of the day they are often frustrated and exhausted but their is always a glow of optimism about them and the hopes for a better day when they come in the next morning. As a small staff each member has to take on larger roles. As more directives from central admin and then myself comes down on them they continue to bear up under the load and work to put our kids first. I couldn’t be more proud of the work they do on a daily basis.
Then there’s my parents,(my student’s parents). Often as educators we get down on them because they aren’t showing their support in ways we may traditionally recognize. However, one of the practices I have is making 5 phone calls a night to the parents on a fairly regular basis. I give them an update on how their child is doing and let them know if they need anything we will help as best we can. It is evident in these short conversations that the parents care about their child’s education and want them to be successful. Our parents might not be as visible as those from higher socio economic backgrounds but they love their children just as fiercely.
There are many reasons I love being the principal of my building. These are my top three, the students, staff and parents. They inspire to work hard and strive for my own version of greatness. Why do you love your school? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
For more tips and check out my blog or podcasts at http://www.theprincipalentrepreneur.com/. If you’re looking for a group of supportive principals join the private FB group. We’re currently engaged in The Principals’ 20 Day Classroom Challenge!
There is always going to be a percentage of staff that doesn’t like you. There might not be an active dislike but they may not completely trust you. According to an article at bloomberg.com entitled: Americans Can't Stand Their Bosses, and Bosses Admit They're Phoning it in half of the American workforce has quit their job to get away from a bad boss. The following three steps are easy tips to build connections and lower that percentage. In doing so you can avoid staff turnover and cultural instability in your school.
What’s in a name
People inherently like the sound of their own name. It’s important that you use it when addressing staff who may not be on the same page as you. Calling them by name in staff meetings and providing them opportunities to express opinions in areas of alignment is a good way to soften overall tensions.
They actually have a life
The life of an educator is often overwhelming and time consuming. Treating them as if education is their life and expecting them to treat it as such is a recipe for resistance. Learn something about their life outside of the four walls of the classroom. Once you do so bring that up in conversation or send them an email with a link that they may find interesting. Addressing all parts of the person is a great way to build credibility and rapport.
You may have more in common than you think
This idea goes back to them having a life. Once you learn more about them you may find that you actually have things in common. One of the ways people connect is by belonging to the same “tribe”. Being fans of the same team or interested in the same television show gives you something to bond over.
There is always going to be a small percentage of staff members that don’t like you. Shrinking this percentage by addressing these staff members by name, treating them like they have a life and bonding over similarities are three strategies that will help. Use the comment section below to share some tips from your experience.
For more tips and strategies check out my blog or podcasts at http://www.theprincipalentrepreneur.com/. If you’re looking for a group of supportive principals join our private FB group. We’re currently engaged in The Principals’ 20 Day Classroom Challenge!
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm an owner of a new food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......