Intentionally Supporting Your Staff All Year Long

Martin SilvermanBlog, Lead Better, Teach Happier


  • School leaders should be intentional all year when facilitating positive school culture.
  • Supporting your staff all year long means you need to treat each part of the year differently.
  • In the beginning of the year, develop routines, build relationships, and get to know where everyone is academically.
  • The time of the year approaching spring break is a great time to implement events to boost morale and raise spirits.
  • Intentionally celebrate accomplishments at the end of the year.

I read a book once called, If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students. It’s a nifty guide full of tips on how to build community (among other things) in your school. I was thinking of this book recently as I attempted to do what I consider my most important task. As principal, my role is to create a space where teachers and staff can work to do their best for students all year round.  

I’ve been affected, as we all have, by the current pandemic. But even before this pandemic, the creation of school culture has been vitally important. It occurred to me that this doesn’t happen by accident. As leaders, we need to be intentional all year when facilitating positive school culture for our people. 

So here’s my guide to being intentional with school culture building. It starts with the most basic assumption. Our staff wants to do what’s best for our students and community every day. I truly believe that nobody comes to work at the school intending to create chaos and disharmony. Most educators at their essence are very nice people. However, school staff are human, with the failings that human beings sometimes possess. We all have our good and bad days!

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Over my many years in public education, I’ve noticed there is an ebb and flow to the school year that is almost predictable.  This is how the year goes for staff:

Supporting Your Staff: In the Beginning…

August is a time of hope and possibility. Staff members are coming off summer vacation, and they are excited for the new school year. Their minds are on getting their rooms prepared, their lessons planned, and the summer ideas or PD learning more focused for their new students.

This is not the time to overdo new initiatives or do long-range thinking. Everything at this point is abstract. We don’t know who will be in our classrooms and how the dynamics will unfold. My suggestion is to keep the beginning of the year for developing routines, building relationships, and getting to know where we are academically. 

September and October are when reality sets in. We spend weeks with our students and get to know their academic and social interaction styles. Now is the time to start looking at student data and developing plans to reach all of our learners. This is also the time when teachers start feeling the new falling away.  I like to use September and October to provide not only data discussions, but also to do social activities with staff to put some fun into this part of the year. 

Supporting Your Staff: Here Come the Holidays!

Then we get to November and December. As we get closer to the holidays you would think schools would be full of joy and goodwill. In my experience, this is not true. Think about it. The weather is starting to turn colder. The days are getting shorter due to daylight saving time. With the holidays comes more spending, more eating, schedules that change from the usual, planning dinners, special events such as concerts and holiday parties, etc. Our people are stretched to the limit. At this time of year, it is best to keep school events and activities at a reasonable level so our staff can stay engaged. 

January is a pivotal month.  The new year brings new possibilities. It also brings New Year’s resolutions. This is not the time to provide a sumptuous breakfast!  My suggestion is to provide fun, active experiences for the staff. One year we did a staff painting party and once we went bowling…we had a blast as a staff right when it was needed. 

And here is a special note about the third Monday in January. That day is what’s known as Blue Monday. It’s the day when holiday bills start rolling in, and New Year’s resolutions start rolling out. Make an intentional effort to be uplifting and encouraging to your staff. This year we provided tea and biscotti right around that time as a special treat. 

Supporting Your Staff: Lower Morale – But It’s Almost Spring Break!

February and March are some of the lowest morale periods at school. Spring is still not quite here, and there are no major holidays until spring break rolls around. This is also the time that students tend to make the most progress academically. Use this time to drop in some special, low-key events to keep up your spirits. At my school, this is when we do family events like game night and spa night. We also do our annual cooking contest in March right before spring break!

After spring break and through the end of the year is testing season. There is no getting around that! Staff members may be more on edge as testing approaches, but if you plan some fun in this period, you can help lighten the mood.

This is the time of year we have done staff Olympics, a staff Family Feud event, and pre-testing tailgate parties for our students. Moving the focus away from testing shows that you are confident that your staff have been working hard to prepare students all year, and don’t need to cram at the last minute. 

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Supporting Your Staff: The Summing Up

And now finally it’s May and June!  It’s time to celebrate all of your accomplishments and complete what I like to call the Summing Up. Encourage your staff to have fun with a field day, family picnics and dances, and of course, graduation or moving on events. If you have been intentional about caring for your staff during the ebbs and flows of the year, you can now smile, take a deep breath, and start planning the calendar for next year!

About Martin Silverman

Martin Silverman is a father, grandfather, husband, and long-time educator in beautiful San Antonio, Texas. He is committed to providing the best educational experience for the students and families at Salinas Elementary school where he is principal. Martin has worked in urban, suburban, and rural districts as a teacher and administrator. His interests are in creating and nurturing school culture, providing enriching experiences for students and families, and developing future teachers and administrators.

As a former bilingual teacher and administrator, Martin is committed to providing ELL students with quality programs to develop their unique skills. He hosts a podcast called The Second Question, which highlights educators and provides them a forum to discuss ideas, and to honor the teachers that have influenced their lives.