As a classroom teacher, having the support of my Principal meant a lot. It helped me to grow into the Educator that I am today. My Principal understood that elevating and supporting teachers ensured that children would learn. Organizations such as the PTA were designed to bridge the gap between teachers, parents and students. Leaders understand that in order for students to succeed, teachers have to be empowered. Teachers have to be excited and motivated daily. Most importantly, they have to want to be at work. People do their best when the atmosphere is conducive to learning and progress. I’ve been in a school district where the morale was very low. People were not respected or appreciated. The talents of educators were not used. Ultimately the children and families suffered from the lack of passion and respect of the craft. It became simply business as usual. This cannot be the state in which our schools continue to be governed.
That’s why school leadership is so key to how schools and students succeed. I always mention the quote from Errol Davis, former Atlanta Schools Superintendent. “We don’t have a failing school problem, we have a failing leadership problem!” Schools that are failing or have failed didn’t solely have issues with academics. There were more than likely problems in operations, finance, enrollment and retention. The retention of teachers and staff is critical to the operations of school. Schools that have a lot of resignations or transfers always indicate that something beyond the academics is wrong with the school. In fact, the majority of school morale issues are connected to the satisfaction of the teachers and staff.
Teachers often leave schools with strict rules that prevent innovation and create hostile working environments. Here are some ways that we can support teachers and schools with good morale.
- Having a supportive PTA or parent group
- Active parent volunteers
- Adopting a Classroom
- Parent helping build parent communication
- Strong school culture program
- Engaged student support team
- Supportive leadership
When there are school events in the evening, doing a raffle for parents, students and including teachers would be a good way to get them engaged. Celebrating birthdays, doing small tokens of appreciation throughout the year are also good ways to help build morale. Additional ways to support teaching is to partner with the school to help provide professional development for teachers. Serving on the school grant writing team to help with resources for teachers. Beyond a classroom kit, an appreciation breakfast or monthly acknowledgement, teachers want to be respected, empowered and most importantly supported. A happy staff builds a strong school.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.