Updated: May 18
We all know that a workplace with great culture, is one that everyone wants to be a part of. A happy and supportive workplace also contributes towards the wellbeing of those that work there, which is vital in this day and age.
Schools can be inspirational and fun places or they can be plagued with negativity (I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum and everything in between during my time as a teacher).
A staff that work together and feel valued are an educational team that are fun to be around and provide school experiences for their students like none other.
Even if your school is one of those awesome places to be, new ideas to build staff morale will always be appreciated. Here is a list of our favourite ways to support staff wellbeing, build morale and overall have fun as a teaching team at school:
Provide surprise coffees for staff – I had a principal who would send out a text in the morning to ask for coffee orders and he would collect them on the way to work.
Positive Notes – leave gratitude, wisdom or motivational messages around common areas, behind toilet doors or leave personalised notes for teachers.
Bathroom vibes – add a basket of complimentary amenities in the bathroom (such as mints, hand cream, tissues, ladies sanitary items, hand sanitizer, face wipes etc), leave funny teacher memes on the back of the toilet doors or write notes on the bathroom mirrors using glass markers.
Play secret agent – leave secret goodies on teacher’s desks or the staffroom table for people to enjoy.
Setup a team fitness morning – this could be yoga, a personal trainer that everyone pitches in for or you could use the expertise of someone on your staff. My husband’s work runs a Friday morning boot camp, they wear branded hats and everyone has fun exercising together before they start the day.
Organise a coffee van to visit (the playground mums might enjoy this one too!)
Winter soup roster – for anyone who wants to be involved, put together a winter soup roster, where one staff member is responsible to provide a healthy soup and bread rolls for the staff.
Provide fresh flowers or succulents for the staffroom – this doesn’t have to be an added expense. Bring in some from your garden at home!
Teachers in theme – plan random days for teachers to dress in theme. Even better, don’t tell the students and see if they notice! It can be as simple as all wearing a coloured ribbon, sneakers only day or all dressing in the same pattern (eg spots) for the day.
15-minute massages – this one is a little out there, but I have heard of it happening in schools! Organise for a local masseuse to come in for a few hours (perhaps on a day when people have release time) to give 15-minute massages. Talk to your principal to see if they can fund the idea if you promise them the first one!
Give out staff awards and prizes – host random raffles each week and giveaway something your staff value (could be a bottle of wine, block of chocolate, playground duty cover or the ultimate parking spot).
Host a random acts of kindness week – this is a good one to encourage for the whole school. Our free kindness campaign may be able to help you get started with this one.
Block in a wellbeing week every term – this is a community event which means no staff meetings, no parents meetings, no staying back late and no homework!
Offer Professional Development about wellbeing – Speak to your leadership team about scheduling a staff meeting dedicated to wellbeing or gift your staff a self-care journal (you can find ours here).
Play icebreakers – you are never too old for a game. Put aside 5-10 minutes during meeting times to play an icebreaker game that allows you to get to know your colleagues beyond school. One I really like is everyone has to write down one thing that others probably don’t know about them. The facts are read out to staff and they need to guess who it is about.
I wish my colleagues knew – we have all heard of the ‘I wish my teacher knew’ activity. But imagine if you could turn this on its head and let your principal know something about you personally or professionally that could help ease pressure or stress. If you take this on, it needs to be done with an attitude of support and no judgement.
Staffroom shout out wall – create an area in your staffroom with post-it notes where others can call out when a colleague has done something awesome!
Throw a surprise morning tea – teachers always enjoy a sweet treat!
Secret buddies – this is a similar idea to KK at Christmas time. Each staff member receives a person they need to look out for, spoil with small gifts or acts of kindness.
Do a staff Tik Tok - have a bit of fun and share it on email with each other or even be brave and send out to your school community (the kids will LOVE seeing it!)
Provide special treats for staff common areas - this might be burning a beautiful smelling candle just before lunch starts so when staff arrive in the staffroom it smells amazing, exchanging the supermarket bought tea for 'T2 Tea', bringing in a few packets of chocolate biscuits to share, or bringing in fruit from a fruit tree you have at home (I once had a colleague that brought in mangoes from her tree at home and it was a crowd-pleaser!)
Play fun music over the PA system on Friday afternoons! Get that weekend vibe flowing.
Building a school culture that values each other and teacher wellbeing is a key to success. Not only will teachers feel supported and valued but the culture rubs off on the students in our care as well.
Do you have anything special you do at your school to support morale building or teacher wellbeing? We would love to hear about it!
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