BLOG POST 3:
MENTAL HEALTH IN SCHOOLS
Developing An Effective Working Team
I cannot emphasise this step enough. It seems like we are always creating new teams or committees but the importance of an effective team cannot be overlooked. This is critical in order to ensure sustainability, maximise effectiveness and avoid burnout for individuals. Schools are so busy these days and time is precious so when individuals put their hand up to join a team we want to ensure their time is valued, their opinions are heard and a sense of satisfaction and belonging are emphasised. I will go into more depth about how to achieve this in my next blog post.
When beginning any new initiative or change in, it is essential to bring everyone along on the journey. Whilst it is important to recognise that there will always be resistance when there is change, we can minimise the resistance when staff are a valued part of the process and have input into key decisions.
With something as important as mental health & wellbeing on the agenda, it is crucial to have a team approach to ensure buy-in from staff. Setting up an effective team can mean the difference between success or failure. It is imperative to spend time ensuring that you have all the elements of a successful team before you move forward to implementing change as this will set up the foundation of your important work.
I believe, from my own experience as a Chairperson and coordinator for numerous teams, that there are a few important things to include to ensure success for your team:
# Clear vision & use of an Implementation Ladder approach
# Effective processes and strategies within the meetings
(including the need for a passionate Chairperson)
# Enjoyable/positive meetings as well as productive
# Use of consensus strategies for decision making
Below are some examples and explanations of how I use each of these elements in meetings that I have run successfully in order to implement change.
- Clear Vision & Use of an Implementation Checklist
- Begin any new team with a session focused only on identifying the purpose and the protocols for working together.
- Although you probably regularly work together as a staff, this is an opportunity to clearly define how you will have a successful working relationship in this setting.
- Avoid telling your team the purpose and protocols for working together.
- Instead conduct a brainstorm or consensus process to identify the agreed upon items.
- Create an implementation checklist to guide your improvement and give the team a vision (I will talk more about this and provide some FREE resources for you in my next blog post)
- Effective Processes & Strategies within the Meetings
- It is essential to choose the role of Chairperson carefully. Ensure you have someone who is passionate about the area of change and can lead and drive the initiative effectively. It is not about the Chair doing everything. Rather it is the Chair’s role to maintain momentum and to set the agenda based on what needs to be achieved.
- Make use of a “Park It” document (see FREE resource for a copy). You want to avoid meetings dragging longer than intended, but team members often have great ideas come to mind during the meeting unrelated to the agenda items. A “Park It” document provides the opportunity to record these great ideas as they come to mind for upcoming meetings.
- Enjoyable/Positive Meetings as Well as Productive
- Staff are busy. When they give up their time voluntarily to attend important, extra meetings we want to ensure that we value their time and make it as enjoyable as possible while still being productive.
- We all know how frustrating it is to walk away from a meeting feeling like nothing has been achieved. Do not overcrowd the agenda. Instead have 1 or 2 clear outcomes for the meeting and aim to reach an agreement rather than simply discuss the options in a roundabout manner.
- Don’t be afraid to add a little fun to meetings. It only needs to be brief, but after a long day at work a little humour or a bowl of choccies can make a meeting a little easier to take (see Available resource for some ideas)
- Use of Consensus Strategies For Decision Making
- It is important as Chairperson to get opinions from team members, but also imperative that decisions are made in order to maintain momentum.
- Use a variety of consensus strategies (see Available resource for ideas) in order to reduce boredom and ensure all team members get an opportunity to have their opinions heard (not just the vocal members)
- This is also a great opportunity for staff to explore different strategies that they can utilise for consensus within their own classrooms.
Please add your own ideas or thoughts into the comment section at the bottom of my blog post & feel free to share my blog post with friends and contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
If you would prefer to chat to me in person, I am available via email, zoom or phone to discuss how I can work with you to improve mental health and wellbeing in your school. I can also help your problem solve any issues you are having or help you implement any initiatives you have planned including tying mental health approaches in with behaviour.
If you would like to schedule a Zoom chat with me to see if we are a good fit or ask any questions click on the link below.