Tagged “Building School Morale”

Lora M. Hodges

High-Morale Schools: Readying Students to Take on the World

Post written by Lora M. Hodges for Northeast Foundation for Children/Responsive Classroom, a whole child partner organization.

Morale can be hard to define, but you know it when you see it. When you walk into a school and everything immediately feels calm, safe, respectful, rich with learning, you know you're standing in a school with high morale.

That's exactly how you'd feel if you were to walk in to one of the many schools in the nation using the research-based Responsive Classroom approach. You'd see and hear teachers showing patience, kindness, and respect toward each other and toward students. You'd observe engaging lessons in classrooms. Throughout the school you'd hear adults using positive language and drawing forth positive behaviors from students. You'd get the clear sense the adults like their jobs and the children want to be at school.

This is positive school culture. This is high morale. And this is indispensable to students' school success.

Read more »

Melanie Olmstead

Building Support for Teacher Leaders

Teachers are increasingly embracing leadership roles that allow them to use their skills and expertise outside of the classroom. Yet many schools are facing challenges in implementing distributed leadership models that empower teachers to become influencers and decision makers. ASCD's latest Policy Priorities examines teacher leadership and the obstacles practitioners face from the classroom to the central office in cultivating programs that expand and enhance professional growth and leadership.

Read more »

Dru Tomlin

Staff Morale in the Middle

One of the 16 characteristics of an effective school for students ages 10–15 is that teachers, learners, and building leaders should be using multiple assessments to gauge success. Data is collected to gauge learning and instructional success, but there is one other piece of data that also needs to be assessed, analyzed, and acted upon in the middle level: morale. While sometimes elusive, morale is a critical ingredient in the middle school recipe because it affects every instructional dish that is served to our students. But how do we collect, disaggregate, and then act upon morale? How do we pin down such an enigmatic ingredient?

Read more »

Jessica Bohn

Turning Resistant Teachers into Resilient Teachers

Resistant teachers can have a profound effect on the school climate and culture in both positive and negative ways. In the book Leading in a Culture of Change (2007), Michael Fullan says resisters deserve respect both because they present ideas we might otherwise miss and because their influence is crucial to navigating the politics of implementation. By using situational leadership, the ability to fluidly interchange among a variety of leadership styles as the situation demands, administrators can shape teacher resistance into resilience and develop powerful partners in school initiatives. Goleman (2004) says situational leadership can mitigate the negative and enhance the positive forces influencing school climate. Effective school leaders know when to use a different leadership approach based on the behaviors and personalities of their teachers.

Read more »

Kevin Parr

Keep Students and Parents (and Teachers) Initiative Fatigue Free

Last week I entered a meeting feeling pretty good about my teaching life. I was sticking with my goals for the year, trying some new things outside my comfort zone, and achieving some success doing them, but soon my head was fixed on all of the things I wasn't doing. All I could think about were the things other people were doing or telling me I should be doing that I wasn't. I was feeling inadequate and I just couldn't shake it. I was, as ASCD CEO and Executive Director Dr. Gene R. Carter recently phrased it on a panel discussing developing teacher leaders, experiencing "initiative fatigue." There was too much, too fast, and with too little time for me to evaluate or prioritize the ideas coming at me, let alone do anything with them. I was overwhelmed and anxious. I was lost.

Assuming that I was not the only teacher in the room feeling that way (and I doubt I was), what was the collective effect of those feelings having on the atmosphere of our school? Were all of these well-intentioned ideas empowering teachers or disenfranchising them?

Read more »

Klea Scharberg

How School Design Affects School Culture

Education Week's 2013 Quality Counts report investigated the effect of a school's social and disciplinary environment on students' ability to learn and the educators responsible for teaching them. Watch this video to explore some of the ways to configure school design to support a positive school culture. Discover how some schools are creating flexible, adaptable learning spaces that encourage collaboration and reimagine schools as student-centered communities of learners.

Read more »

Rich McKinney

Low Morale in Your School? Nothing a Little Teacher Empowerment Can’t Fix

Pick up a newspaper or spend a few moments watching the evening news and you will find evidence that many schools across the country are in the midst of a morale crisis. In many states, revised standards for Common Core State Standards implementation are taking a toll on teachers who feel as if they are losing the autonomy to plan lessons as they see fit. In some communities, budget difficulties are leading to job loss and stagnant pay. Increased accountability and new methods of evaluating teachers are also discussed as problems facing educators today. Often what frustrates teachers the most is the perception that their voice is not heard in public discussions about these issues. In describing this state of mind, a friend of mine quips, "Teachers are like France. We know that we don't have any real power but we want to be treated as if we do." In some ways, my friend is right, but I don't think the solution to today's morale problem will be found in treating teachers as if they have power, but rather in truly empowering them to be leaders in and out of the school and contributing members of education policy discussions.

Read more »

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Bring Yourself to Work Every Day to Build Trust, Morale, and Culture

Download Podcast Now [Right-Click to Save]

Educators working in a positive school culture experience collegiality, trust, and tangible support as leaders and peers, creating an environment where there are high expectations, involvement in decision making, and open communication. Students entering a positive school culture feel safe, engaged, and connected and see school as a place where they can learn and contribute to the world around them. A positive school culture—morale—is the cornerstone of a good school and the foundation for school improvement.

School cultures should support, reinforce, and reflect the well-being of everyone in it, ensuring that students and adults feel valued, respected, and cared for and are motivated to learn, lead, and teach. In this episode, we take a look at how we build school morale so that administrators, teachers, students, and parents are energized and positive about learning. You'll hear from

  • Dave Burgess, award-winning U.S. history teacher at West Hills High School in San Diego, California; semi-professional magician; highly sought-after professional development speaker; and author of Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator;
  • David Culberhouse, former teacher and principal of a California Distinguished School, currently senior director of elementary education for the Rialto Unified School District in southern California and co-moderator of the West Coast #satchat, weekly Twitter discussions about education and leadership held Saturday mornings;
  • Joe Mazza, former teacher, principal, and technology integration coach, currently project manager for Connected Teaching, Learning, and Leadership in the North Penn School District in Lansdale, Pennsylvania; innovation coach at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education; and producer of #ptchat, another weekly Twitter chat—this one for transparent and collaborative dialogue between parents, family engagement practitioners, and teachers—held Wednesday nights; and
  • Angela Hamilton, assistant principal, and Eric Russo, special education co-teacher who specializes in reading and language arts, at Drew Freeman Middle School of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland. Drew Freeman is a member of ASCD's Whole Child Network of Schools and is in its second year of a three-year, comprehensive school improvement process using the tenets of the Whole Child Initiative—healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged—as a sustainable whole child approach to educating their students.

Connect with us @WholeChildASCD and our guests Dave Burgess @burgessdave, David Culberhouse @DCulberhouse, Joe Mazza @Joe_Mazza, Angela Hamilton @Ahamilton1994, and Eric Russo @erusso78 on Twitter.

What is the link between school morale and learning?

Kevin Scott

Everything Is Not Always Awesome, But It Can Be

A positive school culture is critical to the success of any school. As educators, we know that staying positive in the wake of planning, paperwork, meetings, grading, and all of the other administrative tasks is tough, especially when we got into this business because we love to work with students. It takes more effort than simply "putting on a happy face," as the musical number goes. The bigger question is always, "How do you do it?"

Read more »

Klea Scharberg

Throughout February and March: Building School Morale

Educators working in a positive school culture experience collegiality, trust, and tangible support as leaders and peers, creating an environment where there are high expectations, involvement in decision making, and open communication. Students entering a positive school culture feel safe, engaged, and connected and see school as a place where they can learn and contribute to the world around them. A positive school culture—morale—is the cornerstone of a good school and the foundation for school improvement.

School cultures should support, reinforce, and reflect the well-being of everyone in it, ensuring that students and adults feel valued, respected, and cared for and are motivated to learn, lead, and teach. Join us throughout February and March as we discuss how to build school morale so that administrators, teachers, students, and parents are energized and positive about learning. What practices build morale; empower leaders; and promote trust, mutual respect, and celebration? How can the demands of accountability and high expectations be realized without affecting a positive culture?

Read more »

Share |

Blog Archive

Blog Tags