Top 3 Tips for Building Team Culture for Educators

building a team culture

Looking to boost morale within your team and create a better workplace climate? Want to take your staff’s cohesiveness to the next level?

Building a strong team culture is imperative for workplace success and employee satisfaction. It promotes a healthy and happy environment, and it makes your leadership job easier!

Let’s get into the top three tips for building and enhancing team culture.

Establish and Nurture the Norms

In schools, each office and classroom environment and every adult-to- student and adult to adult dynamic impacts the overall school climate.

Building a strong school culture requires a set of norms for how everyone will work together, treat and support one another to build and nurture healthy relationships. A climate a mutual respect – students to students, students to staff, staff to staff, staff to students, staff to administration, administration to staff, administration to students and on and on.

The environment must be primed for collegiality and respect as the standard and best practice. That means that there is a high expectation and accountability for a standard of practice, grounded in mutual trust and confidence. Without this foundation, the rest of the work will always be difficult.

Build and Celebrate Authentic Relationships

Getting to know the people you work with is one of the easiest (and most effective) ways to strengthen your team culture. Be intentional about allowing people to bring their authentic selves to work and allow them to express that beyond just “what they do” but also bring “who they are”.

Create a “connected” workplace by establishing some workplace traditions, celebrating birthdays, work anniversaries, or retirements. Host potlucks or specialty appreciation lunches on a regular basis. Carve out time for celebrating holidays or even just small successes. Acknowledge accomplishments and recognize strengths so people feel appreciated and can reciprocate that with colleagues.

A happy workplace where employees feel supported and can support one another is a productive workplace, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

Provide the Appropriate Resources

Even if you have the most talented employees, the greatest team needs the right resources and tools to thrive.

Provide the adequate budget, materials, and space for your teachers to convene and strategize. Protect them and their time and buffer them from distractions that derail. As the leader, stand between them and the things that could serve to hinder their success.

Create ample opportunities for growth and continuous improvement and share feedback and constructive criticism in a way that doesn’t damage relationships, and that helps people grow.

When individuals feel encouraged to grow within their organization and feel safe to make mistakes and learn, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their career.

Final Thoughts on Building a Team Culture

Even if you have your hands full with daily tasks and responsibilities, neglecting the cohesiveness of your team can be a costly mistake! Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

At the Valbrun Consulting Group, we specialize in leadership development and executive coaching. Check out our expert services today!

Valda Valbrun

Ms. Valda Valbrun is an established Educational Leader known for passion toward inclusive, research-based, data-driven pedagogy, a systems change facilitator with a proven track record of supporting schools and districts to change educational practices and establish systems, and a dynamic Professional Developer, Teacher, Administrator, Entrepreneur, Advocate and Student Champion.

Live Inclusively Actualized: Taking Action Against Complicity

As a Haitian-American, I was affected by recent statements made by the President of the United States. Of course, it makes sense that I would be hurt or angered. Despite being born and raised in the U.S., I took personally these statements that disparaged a place that is so much a part of my heritage. I also felt helpless. I wondered how I could channel the painful feelings in a way that would make a difference, educate others and help them better understand the danger in the rhetoric being spread nationally.

I feared that while some might express outrage in the moment, these statements, like so many others, would go without consequence in the short time that it would take for the next big headline. In times like these, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the cleavage across race, class and gender in this polarized world we find ourselves in now and think that there is no way to impact the many injustices, inequity and divisiveness we see daily. It’s easy to get so overwhelmed that we begin to think that it just might be easier to throw our hands up and retreat to our safe spaces.

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3 Ways to Improve Your Strategy Implementation

Improvement Strategy

Most districts require an annual school improvement plan. In many cases, creating one is more of an act of compliance, rather than a real roadmap for change.

Here are three ways you can advance an improvement strategy for results.

1. Be S.M.A.R.T

While most improvement plans have a series of goals, it’s important to make sure the goals are SMART- Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Results-driven, and Time-bound. A simple online search will yield tons of resources, templates and tools for SMART GOALS development. But then what? This is just the first step and the easiest. The real work is developing the tactics and strategies that will be needed to advance towards reaching the goals.

Ask yourself where are you now and what’s missing or preventing the advancement you seek? What barriers (perceived or real) need to be overcome? Be clear and have a vision for where you want to be and articulate what success will look like when you tell the story that has the happy ending. This will be your Theory of Action. “If we do (fill in the actions) then we will (fill in the desired results.)” Determine what needs to happen to get there. These actions should direct your steps and help you decide if you have the necessary people with the needed skills, and the right resources, tools and supports in place to move forward.

2. Now Be S.M.A.R.T-ER

The reason why most improvement strategies fail is not because the goals were not SMART or because they were not developed with the best of intentions or attempted with fidelity. Instead, they fail because leaders failed to measure the impact of the execution. To avoid this be SMART-ER and add Evaluation and Review to your goals.

Most leaders make the mistake of thinking that once the plan is written and submitted, the work is just to enact the strategies that were outlined, assign tactics to the individuals responsible for them, and then hold them accountable, perhaps by checking in periodically. This link between strategy and action sounds feasible but is most often the place where the breakdown occurs. Leaders can’t be expected to oversee every aspect of implementing an improvement strategy, but to measure if the return on the investment (of time, resources, and people) is making a difference, there must be an ongoing commitment to evaluation and review during implementation and not just after. Sometimes a mid-course correction will be necessary, or an unforeseen obstacle pops up. The only way to know and address this is to stay diligent about not just the end goal, but the process by which you get there. Determine the key performance indicators (KPI’s) that will help to establish efficient management of individual strategies and help track progress of the work during the implementation.

3. Be R.A.C.I

Avoid the assumption that everyone knows and understands the strategy and action steps. Its not enough to just publish or distribute the improvement plan documents. Involve others in developing the strategies so they can share ownership (rather than just buy-in) and know how to enact upon the improvement strategy in their respective roles. Determine who is RACI- Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. Find out what resource needs or professional development those who are responsible and accountable might require. Focus on the performance of those who will drive the strategy and provide the necessary feedback and support throughout implementation. This will build in a system of accountability and a progress monitoring model that allows those who are responsible and accountable to share data towards the key performance indicators.

By being SMARTER and knowing who is RACI, you can execute your improvement strategy, measure progress towards specific targets that can be tracked to provide organizational insights, create accountability to ensure that tactics and strategies are aligned, attainable, actionable and alive, and central to the daily work of improving your school.

Get Started on Your Improvement Strategy Today

Improving strategy implementation doesn’t have to be a negative or apprehensive process. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

Here at Valbrun Consulting, we help school leaders and executives learn how to create successful learning environments through effective strategy management.

Learn more about our services and sign up for a free consultation!

Valda Valbrun

Ms. Valda Valbrun is an established Educational Leader known for passion toward inclusive, research-based, data-driven pedagogy, a systems change facilitator with a proven track record of supporting schools and districts to change educational practices and establish systems, and a dynamic Professional Developer, Teacher, Administrator, Entrepreneur, Advocate and Student Champion.