How much do you feel you or your support staff are valued in the school? Do you feel like a star? Or just a ‘non-teaching’ staff member? Each school environment handles this differently depending on the prevailing culture set by senior management (or sometimes it can be just an historical ‘default’ setting in the school).
This is something I am passionate about having been a support staff member in a previous working life. When support staff feel like valued members of the school team magical things can happen.
The more we are thanked and included, the more we can get fired up about helping teaching and management staff ‘to the max’.
When you remove causes of resentment between all departments of the school, the more the children are the focus, and the teachers are released to teach, and the support staff are released to shine.
Here are 3 things you can do as a support staff member to get closer to this culture:
- Evaluate how you feel about your place in the school and compare that to the reality. Do you shine? Why not? What are the specific things that take away from your shine-ability? (yes, I just made up a word) Write them down. Note the occasions when you do feel valued as well – things that contribute to your shine-ability.
- Think about the teaching and/or management staff you report to or influence on a daily basis. Once a term (at least), write them each a note thanking them genuinely for something you noticed they did or said or an attribute of theirs you admired or respected.
Don’t worry if this is never reciprocated. You just alerted them to the fact that you notice what is going on.
- Get together with other support staff at least once a month for a coffee break. How you treat this time is up to you. It can be purely social just to make sure you are connecting with someone in the school who experiences similar work dynamics. Team starts with relationship.
Or it can be an informal meet up to consider how things are going for each (like peer mentoring). There is only one rule – no negativity. Make it clear from the start you don’t want this to disintegrate into a whine fest. Only discuss problems when you are willing to discuss solutions.
And know this – there is always someone who thinks you are a star!