What Makes a Happy School?

The Question:
Nobody is happy at my school at my school anymore…
What makes a school a happy place?
The Answers:
 Respected and appreciated staff. It starts with the principal letting you know you are appreciated.
 A great team that works together. We just got a new principal this year and we love her. Also, our k team is very close.
Starts at the TOP! Sometimes you gotta make your own “happy”.
Absolutely respect!
Cristina, that’s really sad, and the kids probably pick up on that, too. Try some Random Acts of Kindness with your staff…and your kids! Also, we have these cheesy plastic eagles that someone got at a dollar store. At the beginning of each staff meeting, whoever received an eagle the week before has to pass it on to someone else, with a reason they earned it. It sounds dumb, but they are like a public thank you, great job, or compliment! Then you have to watch for someone else.
I have to say our principal makes our school a happy place…then it just trickles on down!! Very blessed to work with wonderful people!
Being there for the right reasons and having administration that isn’t out to get you – that’s what makes it a happy place.
 I totally agree about the principal-I’ve worked in quite a few schools and the principal totally makes or breaks a school. Team building is so important and if a principal doesn’t focus on that it’s all downhill from there.
Having fun together every day!
Teamwork and a pleasant work environment
Karol Ann
I agree with respect and appreciation, but sometimes I think it comes down to having a positive attitude. Enjoying your kids and feeling confident in what you are doing, along with a principal who is supportive.
I have had the same experience. Last year I decided that I was going to do at least one fun thing with my class a week. I didn’t care if it was tied to curriculum or standard. It improved my morale and my colleagues started to pick up on it. We can blame administration and lack of respect, but sometimes we have to be the change we want to see.
Positive attitude, laughing, a great team that teaches and supports each other, and of course, respect.
Build from within ….. sometimes it has to start small and it will catch on.
We just had two quit…between the new expectations LEQ’s UEQ’s and naughty behavior of the kids, they up and quit!
We just had our little staff dinner and our principal goes way out to make the games silly funny and just welcoming… we have our cooks, custodians, secretaries, teachers etc… but pure laughter and fun… she makes everything fun and does what is best for our students but is a great leader and willing to help anyway possible!! I love the eagle idea and the random acts of kindness… we sometimes are surprised with chocolate…who can’t use that!!
Special Teacher for Special Kids
The leaders! I just finished my Admin program and I look forward to being a great admin one day!
It starts with teachers being excited about coming to work and that has to come from within each person. Our school built a family, not a place we come to work. We love each other and truly care for and hold each other up through the tough times. New Vision Charter School in Loveland, Colorado is an amazing place to work!
We always start off with “shout outs” at the beginning of our staff meetings…
Trust, assume goodwill
People who love their jobs and an administration that supports its teachers and students. Fun people also help…
I believe if you are always smiling and greet your children like that daily you will have happy!!!!!!
 Truly caring about everyone at your school. Even if others are negative don’t take part in it. Ignore it. Think of your students and what’s best for them. Think of your core beliefs and philosophy. Stick to it. Love your kids and coworkers and do your best to show it. As long as you’re doing your absolute best,  then you should feel happy.  Good luck!
 We have a very unprofessional principal. I have to say that it has affected how happy we are at work. Having a grade level team that sticks together helps, but I would be lying if I said we never let it get to us.
Leadership! We had the same problem and the leadership changed and now everything is getting back to being happy  I wish you luck!
 Community building, in your classroom, your team, your school. We have community meetings monthly with our students. We follow the Responsive Classroom for classroom morning meetings, and this builds such community amongst each classroom. The monthly school wide meetings further this sense of belonging for both faculty and students. And yes, I’ll echo what everyone else is saying–it begins from the top. <hugs>, Cristina. Try to find some joy just in your classroom, maybe it will spread. And a break now might be just what you need to come back fresh and positive in the new year!
The Good Behavior Game will infuse your day with joy!
Another teacher commented that I usually walk in with a smile. I may be frazzled, but I make it a point to smile. Here is my plan…every day find at least ONE child (if not more!) and spend 5-10 minutes getting to know them. Say postive things to them. Brighten up their day. When they feel good about themselves, they want to learn. Then, keep yourself in your room. The more you are around negative people, the more you become negative. Surround yourself with people who are still positive. You can be the one that people want to be around.
Feeling safe!
NO GUNS, for one thing. As a non-teacher, I’m wondering — how many of you would continue teaching if you were required to carry a gun?
Stay away from the negative people!
Productive people “teachers as well as students” are happy people.
Unity ….
Routines and positivity and love! Your students in that school deserve nothing but the best!!!
 Leadership that supports you, and being able to do what you know in your heart is best for kids…
We were a very unhappy school for most of last year. Once they fired our principal in March it became very cautious and tentative. People didn’t know who to trust and where loyalties lay. But we have a new “Turbo Professional” principal this year and things are much better. She is friendly and happy without being a “friend” to teachers. Which is a hard line to walk but she does it well. We had a good turn out for the staff Xmas party for the first time in years.
Also staying away from negative people and out of common areas where gossip spreads and avoiding being lumped together with negative people in the guilty-by-association grouping. When I was having a hard time I found great new ideas on Pinterest to refresh what I was doing, came in and shut my door and made my daily environment the best it could be. I shut my door after school while I worked in my room and put on a fav movie or cd on the computer to deter people moving in to let off steam and gripe.
Loving, supporting staff. Not to mention smiling happy kids.
Teamwork. Infuse yourself with it, even if it’s unwanted. Keep away from any kind of competition. Negate it. Refuse it. Debate it. Diminish it. That’s the only thing that can keep a school from success. Teamwork and communication is key. Kill with kindness. Kids benefit from working together, as do staff. We didn’t move to round tables for no reason.
Stop having a double standard with employees. Stop changing the curriculum every 5 minutes. Give us our planning time back so we can stop spending all weekend planning instead of relaxing and spending time with our own children.
I’ve worked with 10+ principals in my 25 years of teaching and I can say without a doubt, the principal and office staff make all the difference in the world. Relationships with principals can get toxic very quickly for reasons that may be totally unknown to you. Pray on it.
Do you have a social committee? I was last at school with terrible morale, so a few of us started sending out encouraging notes with candy. We had a Valentines party and organized a potluck breakfast. The little things help you through. Good luck!
My school is not a happy place either. School is all about test scores and not child centered anymore. It’s pressure, pressure, pressure to get those scores higher and if you don’t, administration is putting it on you.
I have a few really good colleagues and I know they trust and support me. I spend time with them and stay away from the people who are really negative. Focus on your students too and making your classroom a happy place. When I feel down about stuff going on around the building, I try to remember that the kids come first. Savor those little moments with them.
Happy children. A developmentally appropriate curriculum around their interests. Try Building Blocks, (4 Blocks structure) They are still learning and testing the same and having fun!
I think it is really hard when everyone is not on board, but I feel like you do have to create your own happiness at times. I know that it is hard when there is so much negative around and we all have our moments, but it shouldn’t be an “all-day, everyday” thing. Luckily, I have a wonderful group of ladies that I work with. Our K team is awesome. We have our moments, but we have each others’ backs. Just this past Tuesday we went out to eat together and shared a few laughs. Yes, it would be better if the whole school were on the same page, but that is never going to happen. There are too many differing personalities within the walls of a school and sometimes I think that some people are motivated by negativity, sad to say but true! So, make your own happiness. Find a few close friends that you can talk to, in and away from school, and take the time to go out with them away from school. Just because they are coworkers doesn’t mean they can’t be “friends” too.
Loving one another. That is my classroom motto.
I know what you mean! Us too.
We have a terrific office/support staff and supportive/encouraging principals. We also have a social committee and the staff has a motto “the staff that plays together, stays together.” We also work for a great school system. There is a tough road we are all traveling with regard to our profession and having support from the top and a fun encouraging staff sure helps with morale. It’s a lot easier to have a great attitude when you have a positive work environment.
 Putting others before yourself and giving. write thank you notes to each other and the staff in true gratitude for what they do for you. There has to be some love and respect for others even though we are all stressed to the limit. Laugh when appropriate. Tell jokes to your kids and let them tell jokes in class. Spend time, I know there is none, but try to have some fun in the classroom. Appreciate the moment, the blessings in life come from the everyday little things.
I do believe the admin make the biggest difference …Our sweet principal has changed so much with all the pressure…he works at being upbeat, but the stress he is under, working late into most evenings, and the added burden of observations and staff pay based on his ratings, which he is working hard to make fair and realistic, is taking a huge toll on him and the entire staff. All completely stressed out even down to the custodians…(one who is must be about 80!) Blessings to you all, I remember when it was not like this, and teaching was not such high pressure and the kids were not tested for everything they could do by the time they were 8!
It begins at home with parents who make their children behave, instead of teachers trying to. Too many sperm and egg doners and not enough parents.
I understand.  I work with some nice people, but some days the complaining about administration and everything gets old.
…and being in a small school with teachers who have taught forever and have their little cliques and being new and not in a clique, or having the teachers who openly accept you retire can make for a lonely place.
…not only do kids want and need to be accepted, so do teachers.

2 thoughts on “What Makes a Happy School?

  1. We have an extremely unprofessional (young and unexperienced) principal this year too. I absolutely love my team though. It’s tough to not let it bother you but I just realize that besides my eval, my team (and kids!) is who I work more closely with. I just block out the negative, smile through her meetings, and focus on what I can change.
    A principal makes or breaks a school. We have very little team building, no fun shout outs (mostly we just hear about her). We have a lot of turnover.

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