Morale is a Team Effort

cc licensed flickr photo by Yodel Anecdotal:

First posted by Janet Avery in March, 2010

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)! ­čÖé

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. I love your approach to emphasizing key areas of focus; in particular, I share your passion for visibility and engagement with members of the faculty. This is absolutely essential to keeping a positive vibe and being in the know about issues related to morale.

    August 10, 2010
  2. I will be working on my education courses, but what I can say is I have been a student of many teachers through the classroom and books. Your positive journal reminds me of an 8th grade English I had that insisted we write about the negative and change our attitudes within 10 minutes. The repetition of this assignment over a year showed me I could change my perspective. Unfortunately, showed my journal to a teaching major and never saw it again. Oh well, I’m sure he passed it on to other students.

    August 12, 2010
  3. […] morale,┬áthe subject of recent posts by┬áDave Bircher and Janet Avery by┬ámaking connections and building relationships with staff and community members. Show them […]

    August 22, 2010

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