Creating a Positive School Community

Creating a Positive School Community

People are more and more aware of the need to support children, young people and those in education with their mental health. I talked about the importance of teaching resilience in schools in my last show. But working in education can also take its toll on the teachers’ mental health. Resilience in schools has to start with the teachers. They need our help too.

In her article on the causes of burnout, Christina Maslach states that one of the causes of burnout it is ‘reward’ she said:

If the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for your job don’t match the amount of effort and time you put into them, then you’re likely to feel like the investment is not worth the payoff.

It’s not just financial reward that is being discussed here, Our work can feel validated if we feel appreciated. If we express gratitude to our fellow teachers and show appreciation, our colleagues will feel less stressed and will feel more resilient.

Christina also mentions that community, or the lack of community can lead to burnout, she said:

In many cases you can’t choose your colleagues and clients, but you can improve the dynamic. It could be as simple as taking the time to ask others how their day is going — and really listening. Or sending an email to someone to let them know you appreciated their presentation. Or choosing to communicate something difficult in a respectful, nonjudgmental way. Burnout can be contagious, so to elevate your individual engagement, you must shift the morale of the group. If you’ve found that once you’ve done all you can, others can’t improve or don’t want improved relationships, then you may want to consider a job change.

It’s not just burnout that is contagious. Just as negativity can spread throughout the staffroom; positivity can also spread like wildfire. We can spread positivity through the power of gratitude. By showing gratitude on a peer-to-peer level, we can create a community feel and make the school a better place for the teachers.

Everyone has good and bad days, by expressing gratitude at every opportunity and really paying attention to the behaviour of others, we might just be able to save someone else’s day.

When we create this positive community feel it also makes it easier to ask for help. There’s no need to suffer in silence, if we are part of a supportive, resilient team it also makes it easier to reach out to others.

Another way to build this community in a school is to have a ’open classroom doors’ policy, if the classroom door is open at break times it makes it easier for colleagues and students to approach each other, check in on each other and offer support.

When the teachers feel valued and are supportive of each other this will also filter through to the pupils and the whole atmosphere of the school will generate more positivity.

You can hear more about how to create a positive school community in TAP’s latest Education Radio Show: