My staff are stressed

(39 Posts)
HedgeHogGroup Wed 16-Oct-13 20:19:04

Help! I'm a HT and my staff are stressed. I genuinely don't feel that I'm asking TOO much of them but the old HT didn't ask anything of them - no monitoring etc. I'm implementing changes to things that were picked up in the last OFSTED and am careful before asking them to do anything extra and know that we're doing the bare minimum to get 'good' because the consequences of 'requires improvement' will be more stressful.
I don't know if its end of half term blues or if there's something extra I can do for them... any advice????

Venushasrisen Wed 16-Oct-13 20:23:35

Take them out for a piss up, no just kidding, but do you manage to praise them much? I know nothing about this but I did have a great boss once who always managed to sound pleased with what you did, found something positive to say about you to your face, she was great.

FunkyBoldRibena Wed 16-Oct-13 20:24:51

My management philosophy is 'ask for a horse, get a dog'. So you needed to start with the requirements for outstanding so that you could lower your sights.

Come back after half term and call a staff meeting, giving them the job of deciding what needs to be done to become an outstanding school, and a fortnight to come up with their own action and implementation plan.

HedgeHogGroup Wed 16-Oct-13 20:27:08

I use lots of praise and regularly provide sausage & bacon butties to keep morale up. We do socialise together but I don't want to intrude.
They know that I desire for us to be 'consistently good' but not 'outstanding' as I think its setting us up for a fall in the future when the goalposts shift again.

spudmasher Wed 16-Oct-13 20:29:26

Don't do widespread meaningless praise. I think a quiet 'Thank you for your hard work...it really is having a positive impact on the outcomes for the children in your class. I recognise what you do....etc' helps a lot.
The atmosphere is not great in my school either- assessment week, strike dividing the team etc. I have sent an all staff email telling them I'll be propping up the bar in our local from 5pm on Friday and would value company! Lets see what happens....hope I'm not alone......bit scared now..

HedgeHogGroup Wed 16-Oct-13 20:34:37

A quiet drink sounds nice to me!!

MrsCinnamon Wed 16-Oct-13 20:35:15

Hedgehog and spud, can I come and work for you? grin

Bacon butties and sincere praise, plus I'd be glad to work for so someone who has realistic ideas.
Sadly, I have had quite different experiences.

LizzieVereker Wed 16-Oct-13 20:40:07

You sound really thoughtful, OP, it must be difficult to take over a staff who have had no support or monitoring previously. thanks

I agree that individual, specific praise is far better than blanket praise.

Is it possible that your outlook of "We're not going for Outstanding" and "They'll only change the goalposts again" might be rubbing off in a negative way? It might me me feel as if my HT didn't feel I was very capable. I've always achieved most when led by someone saying "Of course you can do it, why on Earth not?"

I'm really not being critical, just wondering. smile

spudmasher Wed 16-Oct-13 20:40:38

Sorry to hear that MrsCinnamon.
HedgeHogGroup- it's a lonely job, so a quiet drink it may well be!

Rowlers Wed 16-Oct-13 20:43:06

However, I can't see how, in this climate, you can do anything but aim for outstanding.
I think for me the key is to be included, to feel part of the team heading for the top, working together and not just being told what to do.
Value your best asset, your staff and use their knowledge and expertise.
Get staff to evaluate as a TEAM where the school is at and agree simple practical things that you can all do, in order to tick the good and outstanding boxes.

HedgeHogGroup Wed 16-Oct-13 20:46:16

Not at all a lack of ability - I am blessed with a staff who are all good or outstanding and each on their day can be outstanding. We are not, however, blessed with a community which fits with Mr Wilshaw & Mr Gove's image of a school.
I praise both publicly & privately & the staff know that my lack of enthusiasm for outstanding is more a judgement of OFSTED than of them.

funchum8am Wed 16-Oct-13 20:52:28

Make sure all your internal school systems and processes work smoothly eg results analysis, setting meeting agendas and providing minutes, report writing, communicating with staff and parents, trips processes etc. Poor admin systems, poor communication and tight deadlines make things really hard in a school!

And I agree that aiming for outstanding would be more motivating for staff.

You sound like a lovely head!

Islagiatt Wed 16-Oct-13 20:54:44

"I'm implementing changes to things that were picked up in the last OFSTED and am careful before asking them to do anything extra"

Just a thought but this is a very 'directing' statement (and I know that's sorta your job!) but maybe you could think about including them in the decision making about what was identified at the last Ofsted and getting them to work out what they need to do. Not my natural style of management, but in a team you need them to accept the changes are their responsibility (and their ideas) and come up with the solutions (that you probably already knew but now they are engaged with).

Helpyourself Wed 16-Oct-13 20:54:50

Funky its probably my inner barrack room lawyer coming out here, but I'd really resent that:

"Come back after half term and call a staff meeting, giving them the job of deciding what needs to be done to become an outstanding school, and a fortnight to come up with their own action and implementation plan."
If they're already feeling over stretched they won't want to spend time drafting something the ht is paid to design and deliver.
Meaningful praise and listening is supportive though.

HedgeHogGroup Wed 16-Oct-13 20:57:16

Thank you, I knew you lot could help grin

FunkyBoldRibena Wed 16-Oct-13 21:30:17

Help yourself why would you resent being part of the solution to the problem? Surely it's a school issue, and the whole school needs to resolve it?

Helpyourself Wed 16-Oct-13 21:49:41

It's chippy of me I know, and in my current job I'm happy to propose changes and implement and manage projects. However when I was a teacher, admittedly not SMT we just didn't have the time to do what we were timetabled to deliver. Anything else was too much.
I'm not saying its good- but it is typical for a teacher.

Helpyourself Wed 16-Oct-13 21:53:06

Of course I'd never resent being part of the solution, but there's often a culture where you're asked to come up with suggestions that can't or won't be implemented.

Inject a bit of fun somewhere, anywhere. A happy staff is a productive staff. Secret Santa at the end of term is a winner, birthday cards are nice (make sure they're handwritten!), cake day Friday?

We get Krispy Kreme donuts after every inspection (we're in special measures - we eat a lot of donuts!)

Waferthinmint Wed 16-Oct-13 22:05:36

If you can, try to invest in making their job easier. For example -'if asking for data, ensure they only need to input it in one place, once. The. Do something with it ans show staff what you have done.

What demoralises us at school are the archaic systems trying to keep up tpwith the new requests and then never seeing any results from it. Eg: I mark the assessment, record assessment in my mark book, record same assessment on department spreadsheet, record assessment on Central school spreadsheet, record assessment on termly report.

Morale is low.

Waferthinmint Wed 16-Oct-13 22:06:22

Oh, and my previous school had 'treat tuesdays' where there was something nice in the staff room at break.

lifeissweet Wed 16-Oct-13 22:48:16

I agree with Waferthinmint. I would add that it is demoralising when what you do isn't seen. I am not talking about monitoring people to death (that's what happens at my school - providing evidence for people monitoring me takes up more of my time than marking at the moment - it's ridiculous), but if you ask for planning folders or assessment data to be done - look at it and acknowledge the work that went in. It's not all that difficult.

I have a Head who will never say anything nice without following it up with a 'but' in case anyone gets too big for their boots. Morale is crushingly low at the moment. Staff are paranoid about whether they are 'in favour' at the moment. Don't do that - be transparent.

Also, morale is being sapped by members of staff who get away with doing very little and despite lots of complaints from colleagues, suffer no consequences when other staff members would have been dragged over the coals by now. Don't do that either. Be fair.

I'm sure all of that is true. Just giving a perspective.

SheerWill Thu 17-Oct-13 09:07:18

I had a letter in my pigeon hole from my head after a walk round to say thanks for creating an irresistible climate for learning - it made me cry. In my previous school all I ever had was criticism and nit picking.

As teachers we seek approval. Just like children we will work our socks off for the person who believes in us.

MiaowTheCat Thu 17-Oct-13 18:38:44

Best head I ever worked for was amazing at using praise with her staff - from my first encounter with her as a supply teacher when she took the time to ring the agency and feedback how impressed she'd been with me that day, to when I ended up working for her full-time... it was just little, but very genuine, things - like if she was taking planning in to check over and you'd written things on there like "this worked well - adapt for x later on?" she'd comment back "fantastic - by the way - we've got this resource in the staffroom - green file - that might be of use to you for this?" Just little things that gave the feeling that she cared about us as people too and not just as wheels in the grand Ofsted grading machine.

Plus she had the healthy dose of scepticism - some stuff would be introduced with a "we all know this is the latest fad and will be scrapped in two years - how can we do this with the minimum extra workload for you all?"

Oh and get a photocopier that works ALL the time - not just one that is about 50/50 about Mondays, not very fussed about working after 10am on a Friday and Wednesday it may well need either begging or exorcism to get cooperation from it! (The biggest stress in my last job was that fucking demonic pile of technological garbage and I bear a grudge!!!)

HedgeHogGroup Thu 17-Oct-13 20:21:07

Thanks Miaow- I feel I do cover a lot of that- photocopier always works and I am more sceptical than is healthy for a 34 year old woman wink

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