Johnny pulls his shoes on reluctantly as mother encourages him to hurry or the school van will have to wait on him. “I can’t stand school this year,” he offers with a sigh.
“Oh Johnny, next year you will have Brother Mast for a teacher and then you will enjoy it a lot more.”
“But Mom, he’s just as bad. The boys say he’s stricter than Sister Ellen. They got in trouble yesterday just for sliding on the wet hall floor.”
Mother groaned within herself. Yes, the children were having a rough year again. Why must school cause so many problems? Why can’t our teachers be a little easier on our children?
“Johnny, just do your best”, she answered, “Dad will talk to the board chairman. Maybe some things can be changed.”
Everyone has a state of morale. School morale is the sum of the mental and emotional attitudes of everyone involved in a school towards each other and the tasks at hand. The above story depicts an unhealthy state of affairs in relation to school morale. One can easily understand that parents, teachers, students, and school board are stressed in this story. School morale does not have to be this way. If all the parties involved put forth effort, it is possible to accomplish something much better than this!
Why is it imperative that we maintain healthy school morale?
First of all, the morale of the school affects every child. Their learning processes will be improved in a good setting but hindered when the setting is poor. Good school morale produces teachers in the rising generation; poor morale produces students who leave school never wanting to consider returning as a teacher. The Psalmist recognizes the need for the rising generation to take up the work of teaching in Ps 78:6. “That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children.”
Also, school morale is closely related to church attitudes and morale. If there is a good level of respect and support in the church, this will foster good school respect and support. If the school has a poor morale it will eventually have its impact in the church setting as well.
Further, we simply cannot afford the consequences of unhealthy morale. Healthy school morale is costly in many ways. It takes a lot of effort from teachers, parents and school boards. It also takes finances. It requires time. But to allow unhealthy school attitudes to continue will be even more costly. Children will grow up to despise God and the church and they will have little resistance to the pressures of worldly society.
Finally, God knows the attitudes present in our schools and churches. We will answer to Him for our thoughts. He will bless us for Godly attitudes and thoughts but will condemn us for wrong attitudes.
How can we improve the morale in our schools? What things are important to keep school morale at a good level?
Most critically, it takes the blessing of God on our schools. We should pray much for the work of the school. We must honor God’s Word in our standards and practices. Bible reading, prayer, and Bible classes must be an important part of our school. Without securing God’s blessing, we will labor in vain no matter how hard we try!
It also takes a great deal of cooperation between parents, teachers and boards to accomplish good school attitudes. There must be open and free communication. We should seek to be unified in our vision and ideals for our school. We ought to communicate early when troubles arise. Students should know that their parents and their teachers are pulling together to make the school effective in achieving its goals.
If there are differences to work out, children should not be aware of this. It should be worked out with the authorities involved. We should never be guilty of spreading rumors. Teachers should know that they will not be gossiped about and families should know that they will not be gossiped about, either.
Trust is an important part of this cooperation. Teachers should be hired with care so that parents can place trust in them from the start. Teachers should also trust the parents. Suspicions, fear, and rivalry will effectively destroy a good school atmosphere.
School also requires good leadership to address the issues that arise from this type of work. Principals and school boards should be alert and actively involved in the school. Teachers may need encouragement on how to relate to parents and parents may need some help to know how to respond to their teachers’ efforts. School boards and principals must give direction when these types of needs arise. Parents want assurance that someone is in charge at school who will provide the children with proper supervision. They want to know that the school values every child and works for their welfare. Teachers want assurance that parents support them and appreciate their efforts. They deserve to know where the board stands on issues and what the board expects of them.
A good school experience requires clear, consistent rules and discipline. Teachers must be a good example of the life they require their students to live. Classrooms should be orderly. Students should understand the rules and procedures of the class and be expected to obey the directives of the school. When there is disobedience, corrective discipline is necessary. Inconsistency confuses students and detracts from good school attitudes. Disorderliness encourages laxness and carelessness. Often the disciplines needed to keep a good classroom require more vision and energy from a teacher than actually teaching the lessons.
We should balance this last thought of discipline with some consideration of freedom to enjoy life. an occasional extra recess, a fall hike, or a hands-on science project will lift spirits and put freshness into a day of school. Students should know that their teacher also enjoys these diversions. Teachers need to be in control in these events and carefully consider what they will do and how it will affect their class. These times must be kept from deteriorating into something that will destroy order and respect in the classroom.
Good school morale also takes a healthy dose of the love of learning. Teachers need to be enthused about their subjects as much as possible. Parents should show interest in their children’s studies, even when they themselves struggled in school. To keep this interest, it takes good library books, encyclopedias, and science equipment. It requires well written, up-to-date curriculum. Homes can inspire this interest by researching things they relate to in their home and job. They can do some study on a historical event related to their community or a place they plan to visit on a trip. Interest in missionaries in other countries can stir the love of geography.
Long-term teachers also help boost school morale. Experience does add something to the classroom. Familiarity with the likes and dislikes of the patrons and board will help school personal make wise choices. a quick changeover of teachers can bring changes and challenges that require extra work. What other business is satisfied to have such a high turnover of employees?
God help us to each do our part in promoting good attitudes in our schools, and may the church reap many good blessings from the efforts of our schools.