When teachers feel connected and valued, they bring a joyful approach to their students and families. Happy teachers create a thoughtful and engaging learning environment for students. They interact with families in ways that communicate that they are invested partners in their children’s growth and development. And this positive energy works to build a warm and supportive camaraderie among the staff, which can also work to attract and retain high-quality teachers. In short, elevating staff morale benefits the entire school community.
Given the challenging conditions of the pandemic over the past year and a half and the professional and personal strains, this has put on preschool teachers and staff, finding ways to create a caring community and celebrate the incredible work of early childhood professionals is critical. And these efforts cannot simply happen at the beginning of the school year. Rather, it is important to build an overall culture of appreciation in order to sustain an optimistic and energetic morale throughout the school year.
Boosting Staff Morale Early in the Year
- Spotlight staff members in communications with families and on displays throughout the school building. Share details about what makes each person special and unique. You might include details that allow for parents and students to connect with teachers such as favorite books, movies, and hobbies.
- Find ways for staff to connect with one another. Plan a time to get the staff together socially for a meal or fun activity to celebrate the beginning of the school year. Consider organizing a staff birthday calendar and planning a monthly celebration.
- Have each teacher fill out an “About Me” sheet with their favorite restaurants, snacks, drinks, teams, colors, and stores to shop. Families are often looking for ways to show appreciation to teachers throughout the year, whether on a birthday, holiday, or just because. Having these teacher preferences available means that families can surprise their teacher with a thoughtful gift, and teachers feel personally cared for by their students and families.
Boosting Staff Morale Mid-Year
- Take time to notice all of the ways teachers are thoughtfully planning and interacting with students and families. Share quick notes of gratitude celebrating these efforts. As parents share positive anecdotes, be sure to pass them along to teachers and thank them for all they do.
- Schedule time to meet with teachers to check in on how they are doing. Give them space and time to articulate any challenges, concerns, or needs, and work together to problem solve. Let them know they are an important part of the team and that you are there to support them. Proactively identifying problems and finding solutions can help to maintain a feeling of support and establish channels for any future issues or concerns.
- Rather than wait until the end of the school year, consider scheduling a mid-year Staff Appreciation Week. Invite students and families to send in notes of appreciation or hang up a “We Love Our Teachers” banner and invite students and families to write messages and sign their names.
Boosting Staff Morale at the End of the Year
- Plan staff (and student) dress-up or theme days, and encourage creative participation. You might schedule a day where everyone wears gear from their favorite sports team or a day when everyone wears pajamas to school. These activities inspire fun, laughter, and lasting memories.
- Celebrate all of the amazing efforts and successes of the year! Create opportunities for staff to share pictures and stories from the past year. You might have a staff gathering where everyone shares a funny story or the thing they are most proud of from the past year. This leaves teachers and staff feeling successful about the past school year and energized for the year ahead.