How often do you find yourself wishing you could be a fly on the wall in the staffroom at breaktime, listening to what the staff are really thinking? When you walk in, does the chatter tail off and then into something different, leaving you wondering what your staff may not feel comfortable discussing with you?
Have you ever wondered about who sees the most staff throughout the day? The office staff may see everyone come through the front door at the beginning of the day, but how about the Caretaker or Site Manager, the one person who floats* about the school sorting out everyone’s day to day needs. The people who swoop in** and resolve the annoying little issues that happen like the hall projector not wanting to turn on, the lunchtime staff needing more Anti-Bac Spray, the wobbly chair in Year 1, the dodgy tap in the science block, so on and so forth.
*sort of.. their Keys jangling away
**…Keys Jangling again.. Not that graceful, I’m afraid..
Stop by the Caretaker / Site Office once in a while, see how long it takes for you to start reeling off what has happened that morning, like how Parent A started moaning at you that it was the schools fault not being able to pay for their children’s lunches on their phone yet everyone else can… That happened to me just the other day whilst I was trying to repair a Fischer Price trolley that resembled the scene of a road traffic incident. It still amazes me the amount of damage a 4 year old can cause..
We, your humble Site Staff, are the people that catch most staff off guard, in a good way, I might add.
“I’m glad you came when we needed you, not like such and such, I’ve been asking for them to catch up with me for weeks!”
“I wish the SLT did such and such as quickly as you did today”
or maybe you may find yourself gossiping away whilst the Caretaker or their team of amazing cleaners disinfect your room as you work away in the afternoons once the children have left.
Whilst these little off-hand comments may not mean much on the surface, Site staff like me usually see a pattern emerge where these small moans to us in confidence then grow to become full blown moan-fests in the staff room. This becomes what someone once called a “Mood Hoover” to all around. This creates an atmosphere that hangs heavily over the staff body until someone finally catches on to what the issues are or were and tackles it head on. Sometimes that can come too late, and staff turnover occurs.
Now, I am not saying that you should go and ask your Caretaker to be your informant, or mole or anything like that, but go and have a chat with them and firstly see how they are but ask if everyone else is ok in their eyes too. It’s unlikely that they will say nothing (I haven’t met a CT or Site Manager that doesn’t have something to say!), and even if they don’t specifically say what the issue may be or where the “word on the street” came from, I can guarantee that they will point something out that you may not know is beginning to cause an issue for your staff.
With all of that said; In my opinion, Caretakers, Cleaners, Site Managers, Site Supervisors.. Whatever you call your site staff, we are the ultimate fly on a wall in schools, we see it all, we speak to everyone every day and often, we are the people that others unload on.. So, just check in on us every now and then. Maybe a pack of biscuits left where you know they hide for a cuppa at 10:30 every morning. After all, we are always here for you, whatever your disaster*** may be so please be there for us, and the rest of your staff.
***The toaster not working is not my sort of disaster.. But I wont judge..