The purpose of this blog is to share insights into educational issues affecting Jerome Middle School. These could be new teaching strategies; new ways of grading; new ways of holding students accountable; new ways of getting students involved in their learning; or even new ways of getting parents more involved in the events at school. I hope that these posts will help answer some questions about happenings at JMS!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Morale is a Team Effort

Last week our edchat topic was concerning teacher morale. There was great discussion as to how it may or may not affect student achievement. One member of our PLN challenged everyone to raise someone's morale the next day.

I took this to heart and began to think of ways to raise morale in my school. As the instructional leader, I take this very seriously. I expect teachers to focus on the positives with their students in order to help relationship/rapport. I need to model this as well. However, morale boosting is not just up to me - it needs to be team effort.

Here are some things I have been doing to raise morale (some of these were done before last week's edchat).

1. We began our year with a FOCUS. We do have school improvement goals, team goals, department goals, and individual professional goals. All those "goals" can get overwhelming unless they all have a common focus. I used the "Starfish Story" as the basis for our focus this year. We are remembering that if we can make a difference for just one child in our jobs, then it is worth it. I use a starfish on all my presentations to staff - just keeping that focus in front of all of us.

2. Two staff meetings were dedicated to staff collaboration in answering two questions - What makes JMS Special? and What do we Value? Staff put a lot of though into this interactive activity - posters were hung up in our faculty lounge and staff commented on each others ideas. Now we are making them into permanent posters to be hung around the building.

3. Frequent walk throughs. The purpose of the walkthroughs is two-fold. One - to see what great things are students are being asked to do; and Two - to show students that the administrators value what goes on in classrooms.

4. "Starfish Awards" I took some time out of our most recent faculty meeting to recognize staff members who had made a difference in the last week. I recognized four groups/individuals, and then asked for others to share - and give out their own awards. Not only did more people get recognized for both little and big things that they do each day, we all learned what great things were occurring.

5. During this time of the year (Feb, March), I also ask staff to keep a "positives" journal. We get so focused on all the stress and negative things that our students are doing, we forget that we have great students too. I ask staff members to find at least one positive thing that occurred during the day (even if it is - I didn't kill any of my students today)! :-)

Just as it is easy for our teachers to get focused on negative aspects of our jobs - unmotivated students, apathetic parents, budget cuts, etc. - it is also easy for administrators to get pulled into the same vortex. That is why it is so important that building morale be a team effort. The instructional leader is just one piece of the puzzle. I just try and do what I can to lead the morale in the right direction.


  1. Great job! It's wonderful to see how you have taken the #edchat and dedicated yourself to keeping the positive feelings alive. Keep fighting the good fight in your school.

  2. I enjoyed reading your ideas. Recently I was approached by a teacher who handed me a list of ways I can help improve morale (I am the principal). I hope, through our discussion, she realizes that teachers play an integral role in helping develop and maintain a positive climate in our school as well! What's gonna work? Teamwork! (A little Wonder Pets humor for your Monday.)

  3. I like the positive note on walkthrough observations. The purpose of these is to focus on the positives and what a better way to convey the great things people do.

  4. I like the idea of hanging posters around the building. Sometimes I need that little reminder.

    I've seen boards for kids before that teachers put notes on " I caught___ doing____ (something good). Maybe we should be modeling this for students by recognizing staff in a more public way. Maybe a bulletin board recognizing one thing that each teacher does really well. This might make for some interesting conversations with students about how we all have different strengths.