Teachers work hard to ensure their pupils are thriving and growing in happy classrooms but, what about the staff themselves? Achieving happiness in the staffroom can feel like the search for the Holy Grail and, as head of education services for Your HR Lawyer Schools, Jessica Hannan, explains, there are some common employment problems that can be avoided
A happy staffroom can be a hub of ideas, a space where staff can feel relaxed and take a much-needed break. On the other hand, an unhappy staffroom can allow cliques to thrive and spread negativity. It takes time, money, and some thought to create a social space where information is shared and support is provided. The impact of achieving a happy staffroom will be seen in the classroom – happy teachers are more able to deliver great lessons.
It’s crucial that any negative comments are addressed immediately so they are not allowed to spread. If you are not careful negativity that starts in the staffroom can be easily transferred to the classroom.
Keep it tidy
Is your staffroom a place that people want to be? Of course, schools don’t have the budget of a tech start-up, so a pool table and arcade machines are unlikely, but simply keeping the shared space clean and tidy can go a long way – and it’s free! Removing the scramble for the clean mugs and the final teaspoon may encourage staff to venture out of their classrooms at break-time and ensuring that tables are free from clutter could end the habit of staff eating lunch at their desks. These may be small gestures, but having a tidy shared space can have a huge impact on staff behaviours.
Set the example
Are staff displaying the behaviours that they encourage their students to work towards? How important are the visions and values of the school if they are left behind at the staffroom door? These values should be clearly on display to encourage people to think about how they are behaving. Develop a set of expected behaviours and pick up on them if people fall short. Set expectations and stick to them and, more importantly, don’t forget to celebrate when you see them being met.
Do all members of staff feel valued? Do you have a culture of celebrating success? If not, work needs to be done on shaping your culture and changing mindsets. It’s about ensuring that our staff are engaged and happy, thus taking their positive attitudes with them wherever they go – the staffroom, their departmental office or the classroom. An ‘employee of the month’ style award is a great way to highlight successes and encourage a culture where staff shout about their good news.
Let them eat cake
A ‘Friday Surprise’ rota, where people can bring in something to share, is another way to make the staffroom an appealing space to spend break times and lunchtimes. Although this is my last point, it is by no means the least important.
If you expect students to be respectful, kind and caring in school then you should expect the same of its staff. Happiness in our staffrooms is far from the search for the Holy Grail; it is much more achievable!