The Bank Balance and Staff Morale


With schools being busy and it feeling like the only constant is change, educational leaders, are always finding that they are making many requests of teachers and support staff. While many of the changes in schools are externally driven there are also many internally directed changes that add to everyone’s workload.

Leaders need to be concerned when requests become a bit too much for teachers and support staff and people feel a sense of being overwhelmed. It is in this situation that school leaders need to think carefully about their relationships with their colleagues and what they are expecting of them. I find thinking about this in the way that we manage our finances and keeping an eye on our bank balance.

Certainly, many requests of teachers and support staff are related to doing their job well and improving the school, however, it is essential to be mindful of the amount of time that is available to complete these tasks. Accountability without support will lead to a low or declining staff morale in schools, which needs to be avoided. School leaders need to build credit with their teams by improving staff morale through ensuring that the work environment is as stress-free as possible making it possible for everyone to do the best job possible with a positive attitude to doing so. Too many ‘hard asks’ of staff can wipe away any credit that leaders may have built up and leave them significantly in debt, writing cheques that they cannot cash.

Every now and then check your relationship bank balance when you next ask for something from a colleague or your whole staff, are you in credit or deficit?

Published by Richard Bruford

Richard is currently Secondary School Principal of Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. He leads workshops across the Asia-Pacific region for the International Baccalaureate in the areas of pedagogical leadership and approaches to teaching and learning. Richard consults with schools on the topics of school improvement and effective implementation and use of technology. With a background in public and independent school education in the UK and Australia, Richard is enjoying his international school adventure in China. He is passionate about developing and supporting educational leaders, as it is essential to improving all schools. Richard is a proud family man and feels lucky to be married to Kim and father of their son Austin. In his spare time Richard enjoys to swim, bike and run and is a now retired football player and coach (with occasional guest appearances)

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