By Teachers, For Teachers
When you think of a school, you probably don’t think of it as a place of employment for adults, but more as a place where children go to learn. That may be one of the reasons why employee morale isn’t a top priority at many schools. We are in the business of thinking that school is based on student experience, not teacher experience.
This may be one of the problems with teacher burnout. If the quality of school is based solely on students’ experience, then how are teachers expected to stay happy at their jobs? If you’re looking to make your school a better work environment, then you will have to do a few things to change it. Here are five ways that you can do just that.
If teachers were to just sit behind their classroom doors all day, teaching by themselves, this would make for a terrible place to work. Colleagues not speaking to one another or collaborating on their lessons would be dreadful. Just as we expect our students to cooperate and communicate with one another, teachers must make their work environment a collaborative one too. Get out from behind your classroom door, and consider ways to collaborate with your peers. Don’t just think of ways that you can work together in school, but think about how you can get social out of school. Organize a committee or event where all teachers can bond with one another. The more that you get to know your colleagues on a personal basis, the better time you will have with them at work.
Just as I mentioned above, it’s important to get to know your colleagues out of school. This doesn’t mean that you have to become best friends with them, but you should get to know them on a more-personal basis. The key to a healthy and happy work environment is to keep your socializing to a minimum with your coworkers. Maybe get a bite to eat at lunchtime, go to a Yoga class after school, or go out for a quick drink after a long school day. The more you get to know your colleagues outside of the classroom, the better it will make your work day inside of the classroom.
Be a leader. If you find that you don’t like the way things are going at your school, then change it. By taking on a leadership role you have the opportunity to make a difference in your school. For example, let’s say that you’ve taught 7th grade math for ten years. Within these ten years you noticed that new teachers were struggling to fit in. As a leader, you can suggest pairing new teachers with veteran ones. If you see an opportunity to be a leader and pitch in, then take it. If teachers take on more leadership roles in their school, then it will ultimately be a better work environment.
Have your ever heard of the saying “Keep your eye on the prize?” Essentially this means to keep focused on what you need to be doing. Your job, as a teacher, is to help children learn. You need to stay focused on that, and only that. It can be very easy to get sidetracked and get involved in all the school gossip. Don’t be that teacher who is caught up in school drama and spends their days complaining about other teachers or the schools policies. Keep your eye on the prize, and focus on your students.
Teaching is a difficult profession and it can be easy to think negatively. There will times when you won’t have an answer for one of your student’s questions, a child may struggle on a test, or you won’t feel connected to one of your students. Things happen that are out of your control. The only way that you get through these times is by staying positive. Before you begin a parent/teacher meeting try and think of a way that you can accentuate the positive about your student. Before you enter a faculty meeting, consider how you can inspire your colleagues. It can be hard to focus on the positives, but if you do it will make your school a better place to work.
Research shows that more than 85 percent of Americans are satisfied with their jobs. With that said, this statistic shows that your work environment can be a great place to work. Happy employees produce better work. Which in your case, is your students. When you are happy, your students will learn.
How do you make your school a better work environment? Do you have any tips that you would like to share? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.