25 October 2018

You’re helping teachers feel appreciated

Posted in SU QLD

There is ongoing pressure on teachers to lift test results and meet teaching standards – all while caring for 20+ students in an often over-crowded room.

Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest 53 per cent of people who hold a teaching degree do not work in the education sector. Of those that do, around 40 to 50 per cent of new teachers leave within the first five years of the job – with many citing high stress levels and toxic work environments as reasons why.

In any workplace, when negativity presents itself it can be hard to turn around. This is especially the case for teachers, who can often be too busy to prioritise it; but thanks to your support, school chaplains are starting to buck this trend.

Earlier this year, Chappy Corlia Pienaar saw an opportunity to make a change and create a positive, supportive workplace environment for the teachers at Mt Isa Special School.

Working with her principal, Corlia identified some unhealthy workplace behaviors which were destroying employee morale and productivity.

“At first, I wondered why things were the way they were, and how I could make a change,” Corlia recalls.

“It was then that I had an idea. I immediately dismissed it thinking it wouldn’t work, but as the same behaviour began to show at the start of the next term, I discussed the idea with my principal – who immediately accepted it.”

Corlia’s idea was a ‘No Gossip Campaign.’

She presented the idea to the school staff at a meeting shortly after.

“We talked about a range of things, including when chitchat becomes gossip and what gossip does to a work place,” Corlia says.

“From there, we discussed what we were going to do as a school to get rid of gossip, choosing to instead support each other and build one another up.

“During my talk, I could see heads nodding in agreement. As a school staff team, we adopted the ‘No Gossip Campaign’.”

Corlia designed a badge with the letters “TGU” on it, which stands for:

  1. Is it True?
  2. Is it Good?
  3. Is it Useful?

Wearing the badge was a gentle reminder of the importance to keep workplace conversations professional and respectful.

The campaign has had a huge positive impact in the school. Some of the feedback Corlia has received includes…

“The atmosphere in our school is much lighter and more positive.”

“I can see a difference in our staff’s behavior.”

“I went home and shared the information with my husband. We decided to implement this in our home and to be very conscious not to talk about others around our children.”

Other schools have contacted Corlia, asking if they could adopt the campaign in their school, after hearing how successful it was at Mt Isa Special School.

Corlia’s heart for supporting the teachers in her school made a real impact in their lives.

“We all want to work in a place where we feel respected, appreciated and safe,” Corlia says.

“There is no easy answer to improving workplace morale, rather there are many small steps that have to be taken. This campaign was the first step for our school.”

School Principal Geoff Miller was impressed with the program and it’s positive impact to staff morale.

“It really positive. The focus was on building confidence, strengthening relationships and fostering a positive team culture among the staff,” Geoff says.

By supporting chaplains like Corlia, you are also supporting teachers through heavy workloads and stress – thank you!

You can continue to support school chaplaincy by visiting suqld.org.au/donate

Samuel Moore

Digital Media and Communications Coordinator

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