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In Praise of Invisible Staff Members

By Joy Jameson

Have you ever taken the time to consciously take note of the “invisible” staff members around you—that is, those people who quietly work to keep the school running smoothly each day? These unsung staff members, while giving of themselves each day, often go unnoticed. It’s time to look around you and acknowledge what they bring to the community.
The invisible workers in your environment might be the very patient and kind colleague down the hall who always helps you with your computer issues or the kind-hearted colleague who senses that you need an extra hand with a project or performance and just jumps in to help without even being asked. Maybe the invisible people at your school help with translating or staff writing projects. Then there are the janitors and grounds crews who are often overlooked, even though they work very hard and for long hours. These are just a few examples. The list goes on and on.
As teachers, it might be fun to see how observant your students are of these “invisible” members of the school community. After a brief class discussion of the topic, have students make a list of staff members they have noticed, then compare and discuss the lists.
Once a month administrators and teachers could perhaps mention in their newsletters the names of staff members that helped them over the past weeks. Everyone likes a pat on the back, so this would be great for staff morale. It might also make a fun team-building activity for a staff meeting.
Offering regular recognition could be a very worthwhile learning experience for administrators as well. It would give them an opportunity to take a closer look at the inner workings of the staff configuration and help them come to know these hardworking staff members who tackle their assigned work and more without bringing attention to themselves. This would be especially important since it’s usually only the most flamboyant staff members, the brown-nosers, and the troublemakers who appear on the administrative radar. This information regarding special skills and services is valuable for administrators especially when they are looking for people to head up special activities.
These days we are usually so busy racing here and there that we totally ignore what’s around us. Starting today, stop and take time to become truly aware of the many invisible people in your community. These colleagues are a true asset to your school and deserve to be in the spotlight for a change.

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