I was chatting with a young lady recently who was very excited about a new job opportunity. It was in the medical field, paid well, offered training and provided excellent benefits, in many ways the dream career choice.
Fast forward two months. This woman has now gone through training with top scores, learned the medical procedures to gently administer care to patients, and is ready to begin as a full-fledged practitioner. But there was one problem: her co-workers. None of them had kind words of encouragement, offered assistance, or comforted her when she was distraught when a patient died. On the contrary, these employees reported her every little mistake and tear over the suffering patients to the management.
Net result? She quit. She could not work in an environment with no emotional support. And that business lost a big-hearted individual who brought smiles to people in extreme pain.
I, on the other hand, work in a school where the staff respects and supports each other. We share lesson plans, behavior strategies for challenging students, exciting innovations and most of all empathize with each other when times are tough. For example, when I recently had a neck injury, my co-workers jumped in to help out my substitute, offered assistance, and sent me kind get well wishes. It honored me to be part of a group that truly had my back.
Now I’ll admit, teaching is a rewarding job in and of itself. Daily you see young minds growing and that is quite different from dealing with people in pain. Still there are things that we have done that I believe help to build teams.
- Staff meetings with team building exercises. Some are goofy, others are to provide new information but we often work in groups to achieve a task.
- Leaders who acknowledge the challenges of the job and affirm the successes.
- Release time and stipend pay for staff development.
- Inspirational seminars.
- Administrative support for challenging students.
- Administrators with an open door policy.
- A no bullying stand.
- Outside gatherings for happy hour, lunches, beginning/end of year parties.
- A social committee that sends flowers, cards, and gifts to new parents, and ill or grieving employees.
- Most of all, our school encourages us to be friends.