8 tips on creating an inspiring school culture for your staff

Appoint a ‘Director of Happiness’!

Finding the best teaching staff for your school is no easy task, but retaining this talent is essential in ensuring the ongoing improvement of your setting. With a younger generation of teachers always entering the market, how is it possible to create a culture that can help and inspire your best teachers to invest their career paths in your school?

Here are 8 tips:

1. Flatten your School

Education is notoriously filled with bureaucracy, and such mundane tasks can leave your staff extremely unhappy. At the end of the day, they entered their career to teach, but where decisions are needed it is important that everybody is involved in the decision that will affect the school, their teaching and pedagogy. Creating a culture where staff can share their ideas, and feel listened to, is vital. Try to flatten structures so the opinion and ideas from any member of staff are treated with respect.

2. Empower

You hired your staff because you believed that they can do the job, so trust them to do it. Giving staff meaningful responsibility is an easy and effective way to help them feel empowered, and is a great learning process for them. Be careful not to over-burden, and discuss the support that will be available to them.

3. Training and Development

Meaningful training and development is important, but ensuring that staff are engaged with this training is equally crucial. Yes, the school will have priorities for development, and everyone needs to actively engage in this, but individuals will also want to develop in different ways - perhaps that don’t necessarily support the school development plan. Showing an interest, and supporting this development, is really valuable for the individual, so ensuring that they feel that their learning is valued within your school.

4. Community

Support your staff to hang out with non-work activities, whether it’s for bowling or walking. These social activities can help staff connect, not talk about work, and really establish links with each other which can help prevent feelings of isolation.

5. The School Working Environment

Explore the infrastructure of your school, and ask whether it is a ‘nice’ environment to work. Is the tech updated and reliable? Is the staffroom a comfortable place to relax? Are there opportunities for staff to catch up on paperwork and marking away from the classroom? Have you invested in the cheapest coffee? We are in the 2000s now, but if staff feel that they are still working in the 1970s (or earlier) and it drags them down, then they will leave. Ensuring the little things are done effectively can make all the difference to staff who need to feel valued.

6. Micromanagement

There is little more demoralising than this behaviour from management. Set goals, but make them SMART and show some trust in leaving staff to get on with it, but they should also know that they can happily approach if they need support.

7. Showing Appreciation

Don’t go around saying ‘thank you’ to everyone, all the time, as a genuine ‘thank you’ will seem shallow when it’s truly deserved - striking a balance is required, but staff need to know that you appreciate the long hours, stress and effort that you make. Praise this - staff will truly appreciate you observing and acknowledging their efforts.

8. Appoint a ‘Director of Happiness’ Person!

Ok, you may not call them that formally, but happy teachers are productive and will stick around. If you are going to put someone into this role, then they will need the personality to sit in this role: someone who is approachable, open, honest and supportive. The person needs to really engage with all the staff and make sure that they are happy, there’s a good culture in the school, and staff are positively productive. You could give this person a less trite title, such as “talent and culture specialist”. We’ll leave that one with you.

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 free Edition of UKEdMagazine

Inspired and adapted for schools from inc.com/christina-desmarais/8-tips-on-creating-an-inspiring-office-culture.html

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About @digicoled 446 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.
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