Darkness, cold weather, and a continued lack of daylight can bring the winter blues to many of us. While February is considered the shortest month of the year, for some it seems to be the longest; students and staff are longing for warmer weather, increased daylight, and spring break!
As building leaders, we owe it to our students and staff to flip the negative mindset that can occur during the February Funk. Here are some practical strategies that school leaders can use to bring more LIGHT to dark attitudes.
Light the Fire
One of the best ways to light the fire is by being present. As hard as it may be, leave the office to welcome students and staff into the building. Greeting them with smiles and high fives will provide a contagious spark. Walk into classrooms and shout at the top of your lungs, “I love our school and your positive attitudes!” Stand by the buses or in the hallway after last bell and play groovy music while students exit the building.
Inspire with Positivity
Attitude is a choice. As you plan your staff meetings, intentionally build in fun team-building activities. Staff will love getting to know each other through cooperation and competition. Tweet at least one positive image a day to showcase your school. Hand out positive behavior referrals to staff members by having your assistant call the teacher to your office and present them with an uplifting, positive message. Attitudes are contagious.
Everybody loves a compliment, especially when it comes from a boss who is sincere and gracious. Take time to write notes of thanks, citing specific behaviors you appreciate. Go a step further and write these notes to the teacher’s spouse or parents. Walk into a classroom and personally praise a teacher in front of the students. These simple gestures will energize and enhance trust.
February is a great time of year to reflect. During staff meetings, put together a slide show with pictures you’ve gathered from the beginning of the year. Praise your teachers for going above and beyond to create meaningful moments in their children. Looking back at these positive interactions will fuel them to create even more experiences. Let them know you will be showing another video at the end of the year and you’ll be in their classrooms taking pictures.
There may be no better way to get to teachers’ hearts than through their stomach. After all, February is known for huge chocolate sales. Randomly leave treats in the staff lounge with inspirational messages. A moment on the lips and forever on the hips—I mean hearts!
How do you bring light to teacher morale and lift spirits for your staff during the darkest of times?
Jason Bakke is the principal at Century Middle School in Lakeville, MN, serving an average of 950 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students each school year. Jason has 22 years in education, the last 17 at Lakeville Area Schools. Jason is the 2018 Minnesota Assistant Principal of the Year. Follow him on Twitter @jebakke.