If someone were to visit your school or pop into your classroom today what would they notice? What would they observe? If one of your school’s teachers were interviewed for your campus what would they say? If you are a part of your school’s leadership team would you be able to anticipate their answer?
If you were to reflect on the answers to the questions above would you be able to affirm that your facility and students embrace your school’s core values wholeheartedly with enthusiasm? In other words, is your school living and breathing a set of meaningful core values? Does everyone in your school commit to bringing positive energy into the work they do each day? If not, then this week's blog will provide you with some inspiration that will encourage you to revisit and consider your leadership philosophy and ways that you can reinforce your school’s core values and boost your school's positive energy.
Be enthusiastic about your core values!
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm”. If you are a leader at your school, in what ways are you generating enthusiasm toward embracing your school’s core values? The positive energy that you bring to your campus via in person or remotely can be infectious. By being intentional each day, for example, highlighting a core value during a morning announcement or sending a daily email can invoke school pride and focus on values that are important to your school and community. What ways can you think of that will introduce positive energy and affirmation into the lives of the facility and students each day? In what ways are you encouraging others to focus on your school’s core values to ensure that their core values match?
Find a way to recognize others for invisible wins!
How you appreciate and acknowledge others for their work behind the scenes can be an important factor in promoting positive energy at your school. Adopting and promoting a sense of gratitude by recognizing individual wins is important because it furthers commitment and encourages people to continue living up to the school’s mission and core values. Recognizing individual wins is a way to promote a strong positive culture.
When people are happy and engaged, they enjoy showing up each day, this can be applied to your facility and your students. A key element of this is by celebrating their success, even if it's for something that you can’t physically see. It’s also important to celebrate and recognize work that happens behind the scenes. It’s not always easy to identify an invisible win and those who played a role in achieving the win. You’ll want to ensure that you are using a combination of listening, engagement, and the development of a process to help you find and celebrate a wide variety of wins at your school. Some easy ways to find invisible wins are by asking a lot of right questions and being present, engaged, and by paying attention to your surroundings. Another way to spot an invisible win is by encouraging recognition perhaps by having an anonymous recognition system. There is also a public acknowledgment to consider when recognizing invisible wins. However, use some caution if you use this as a way to promote positive energy because not all people like public recognition, but if they do, great, do more of it! Building morale and positive energy is a team effort. Just like in any team sport, or any game you show support and celebrate success. When you engage in more of the practices like the ones above you will see an increase in positive energy.
Let others see you in action!
Another area to consider today especially with all of the change in structure and setup of schools due to the ongoing pandemic is your visibility. How visible to your facility and students are you? If your school is still remote how often are you popping into your teacher’s classroom? Visibility is an important trait of a leader in your school because it helps contribute to a healthy school climate and culture. This is important now, especially because as of late, it is easy to isolate yourself from others. However, it is impossible to lead from a closed-off office. The fact is, just about everything required of a leader can be accomplished while you are “out and about” provided that you take some health and safety precautions. You want to make an effort to be where the action is and be where the students are and where the learning is taking place. This means not only physically present but also in your mind and your thoughts through your engagement. You’ll want to continue making connections by having conversations and observing closely and by doing a lot of active listening. You won’t want to vacuum seal yourself in your office with the door closed. Make sure you are all in.
With a lot of virtual work being performed and increased use of social media, consider using social media to promote your school’s core values and impact your community by sharing greatness from your students, classrooms, educators, and your school. Yes, there are still things in the world of social media that may cause you to want to shy away from the use of social media, however, if you focus on the positive’s it can boost the morale and performance of your school and make it a part of your school culture. Nowadays many teachers, parents, and students have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts that can be used to share greatness and trend and celebrate the positives of your school from kids, teachers, classrooms, and school by creating custom hashtags that will promote your school’s core values, culture, and achievements. You can even host fun competitions that persuade active engagement and participation with your school. As readers of social media see the content being posted hopefully they will be inspired to share, comment, like, or retweet on your school’s Twitterfeed or Facebook page, etc, and it will create an ongoing story and comradery centered on your school’s core values.
Encourage collaboration and communication in your school
Collaboration is an important ingredient that will help bridge gaps in your school’s positive energy. clear and open communication is also an equally important way to fill in gaps that can affect positive energy. When you have communication that is clear, transparent, and open in a way that others don’t fear, consequences for speaking up when they disagree or need clarity can increase the positive energy at your school. Part of your leadership philosophy should touch on having a focus and commitment to cultivating collaboration. The development of a cohesive team can play a crucial role in ensuring your school is successful. When teachers work well together for the benefit of their students they become more effective. Additionally, there are simple ways to facilitate more collaborative efforts such as adopting inclusive language that is clearly understood. For example, if you were communicating that you wanted more parent involvement and you used the word “parent”, it could send a mixed message that meant only those with the title of parents like mom and dad or legal guardian would respond or be included. However, if you were to change the language to a more universal term such as, “family” engagement, then it would send a message that anyone in the family that has an interest in the child would be welcomed and encouraged to participate. Another example is by changing the language of your Parent Teacher Organization to something more inviting like Community In Action that will encourage positive involvement from all voices in the school, in other words, adopting a philosophy that titles are not the most important factor in terms of participating and being involved in school matters. Check out this Ted talk on Youtube on 3 ways to create a work culture that brings out the best in employees for more ideas on creating positive energy.
Create meaningful connections with students
One of the most important connections that can be tied to the positive energy in your school is the value placed on the commitment to students. There should never be ambiguity about what your faculty stands for and what your school represents. Educators are there to teach, encourage, inspire, coach, motivate, guide, and love students. The connections made each day with students should be one of the top priorities and the why that each educator lives out each day as they come to work at your school. The way by which educators celebrate their students for their character and their effort and dreams is one of the best ways to encourage positive energy on your campus. An example of celebrating your students is having each of your students at your school write out their dream for their future and then having your facility and staff write out their hopes for students and post them up on the walls. Another idea includes setting realistic goals such as making a positive phone call home a day. Taking the time to make meaningful connections with students makes them feel important and valued.
As stated earlier visibility is of the essence when you want to increase the positive energy while making connections with students. Take pride in capturing the success and good character of your students using in person, photo, and video opportunities to help share your student individual success and your school's story. Everyone can reflect on who their favorite teacher was when they were in school, although they may not always remember their name, they will certainly remember how that person impacted their life or made them feel or how they encouraged them to grow. It’s the purposeful, intentional interaction with students that help make lasting imprints on the hearts and minds of them. Another thing you can encourage when making meaningful connections with your students is to encourage the use of affirmations.
In summary, when you and those you lead have a focus on well throughout and purposeful core values and on a mission that is clearly defined and articulated it becomes easier to have positive energy. When you take the time to acknowledge and celebrate others they will feel supported and appreciated for the work that they do. When you take the time to step away from your desk and to get involved with the things going on around you by participating, observing, and engaging in your school’s community you will notice that the energy in your school will increase. When you show others that they are important to you and that you value them by making connections, they will perform better, and they will be happier and further promote positive energy and you will see increased performance. To learn more about how to create a fantastic work environment in your school check out John Nicholls’s Ted Talk.
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