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 contribute to the problem of 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, you will have to do a few things to change it. Here are five ways that you can do just that.
1. Make it a Collaborative Atmosphere
If teachers were to 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. 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.
2. Get Social with Your Colleagues
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. 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.
3. Take on a Leadership Role
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 seventh grade math for 10 years. Within these 10 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, take it. If teachers take on more leadership roles in their school, it will ultimately be a better work environment.
4. Stay Focused
Have your ever heard of the saying “keep your eye on the prize?” Essentially this means to stay focused on what you need to be doing and the end goal. 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 school’s policies. Keep your eye on the prize, and focus on your students.
5. Stay Positive
Teaching is a difficult profession, and it can be easy to think negatively. There will times when you won’t have an answer for a student’s question, 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, 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. Happy employees produce better work, which in your case is your students. When you are happy, your students will learn.