Know | Trust | Empower | Connect | Honor
Recently a school leader posted a question on LinkedIn asking how to boost morale with staff during challenging times. My immediate response was to share the K-TECH framework because it helps build the foundation for a safe and purposeful classroom for everyone– students and staff. K-TECH is the acronym EDWorks’ uses for integrating characteristics of a safe and purposeful school environment into overall school improvement. K-TECH is aligned with major youth development initiatives including Josepshon Institute’s Six Pillars of Character and Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets. K-TECH was originally created by Ohio’s Center for Essential School Reform as part of its Framework for Building Safe and Serious Schools. While we often talk about K-TECH in reference to improving school climate for students, these same strategies can be applied to building relationships with and effectively motivating staff.
In this five part blog, EDWork’s Manager of Partnership Development and Technical Assistance Coach Michele Timmons shares ideas for implementing K-TECH as a strategy for building morale and creating a community of adult learners who can truly meet the needs of the children they serve.
Last month we highlighted E- Empowering Staff to Lead, Change and Grow Together.
Today’s focus is C- Making Connections to Improve Morale and Performance
Empowering Staff to Lead, Change and Grow Together.
William Daggett’s research clearly shows rigor, relevance and relationships are critical for academic success. Dan Pink identifies autonomy, mastery and purpose as key drivers for motivating staff. Making connections is at the heart of the work of both men.
But what does this look like for school staff? How will making connections increase both job performance and staff morale?
Tip #1: Connect Professional Learning to Individual Staff Needs
- Avoid generalized professional learning where every staff member has to ‘sit through’ training which is irrelevant or distantly connected to their actual work. Instead, develop a combination of online, blended and face to face training personalized to meet individual staff needs.
- When presenting topics such as Common Core State Standards implementation, be sure to clearly demonstrate how the strategies can be used across content areas.
- Provide professional learning opportunities for every staff member so all staff continue to grow as individuals and members of your school’s team. Training for paraprofessionals, office staff and custodial / maintenance staff are often overlooked but are just as important to how a school functions as teachers and leaders.
Tip #2: Connect Personally with Staff Members
- Make time to talk one-on-one with all staff members. Do you know them as a person? Do you know what is important to them beyond the school day? If not – make the time. The more people believe you care about them as a person; the more likely they will go the extra mile to make your school an amazing place to learn and grow.
- Thank them for a job well done. It is just as important for adults to be praised and thanked as it is for kids. When staff believe they are important and someone notices the good things they do it makes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Tip #3: Connect Staff with Community
- Community members don’t really understand what goes on in schools and oftentimes school staffs don’t truly understand the real world applications of their content. Consider creating a school version of job shadowing where business and community members spend time in classrooms shadowing teachers and learning more about their role. Seek business partners to offer teachers externship opportunities so teachers can learn new ways of helping students see the connection between content and ‘the real world’.
- Collaborate with business partners to co-create inquiry based units with staff. This helps both the industry professional and the educator develop long lasting relationships which will foster future innovation and partnerships.
What strategies are your strategies for making connections? How does making connections increase both job performance and staff morale?
Check back next month for Part Five of EDWorks’ five-part series on implementing K-TECH as a staff morale strategy. You can also still check out earlier articles in this series: