In a new survey by EdWeek Research Center, more than 40 percent of the teachers reported they were likely to leave the profession in the next two years. In the same survey, teachers said they are less likely to seek support from school leaders (64%) or district leaders (33%) than from other teachers (93%). Perhaps now more than ever, teachers need administrators to initiate support, but knowing how administrators can support teachers who are reaching or are already experiencing burnout requires a bit of creativity and a healthy dose of commitment. This post offers six ways to support teachers in trying times.
- Keep it. Ditch it. Tweak it. Set up a faculty meeting your teachers will gladly attend. Let them know you are dedicating this time to prioritizing what’s valuable and productive for teachers. Inventory what you do in meetings, during professional development time, and during school hours that is working, that is not working, and that may work better if it’s tweaked. Even if you need to phase in changes, follow through so that teachers know you are committed to supporting them.
- Open lines of communication. The better the relationship between teachers and administrators, the more empowered teachers feel to make a difference in their students’ learning and lives. Establish an open-door policy for them and set aside office hours when you can commit to being fully present for teachers to express their concerns. Be sure you are establishing realistic, achievable expectations of yourself at the same time. While nothing replaces meeting face-to-face, consider multiple ways of allowing for communication. You may have open hours for online meetings (such as Zoom or Google Meet). You could also set aside times when you will be immediately available via email or electronic chat.
- Be seen and heard. As important as it is to be available in your office, it’s also crucial that you are seen throughout the school. Support teachers by letting them know you are interested in their craft by encouraging them to invite you to their classroom when they’re trying something new. Then take it to the next level by doing more than observing. Actively participate in the lesson and share what you learned with them afterward. Positively reinforce their efforts by giving them a public shout-out. Create a post about the class on social media and in the school newsletter.
- Focus on wellness. Create times to allow teachers to rest and reset. Consider making a “recharging station” where they can read for leisure, listen to music, or meditate. You might offer virtual yoga or mini-therapy sessions. Just be sure to let teachers do what works for them in the allotted time. Be flexible if they’d prefer to go for a walk or do other activities.
- Give them the gift of time. Teachers will be the first to say that there is too much to do and not enough hours in the day to do it. One of the best teacher appreciation ideas that doesn’t cost anything is to create a schedule that gives teachers planning time. Bring in community partners during their planning time for student enrichment activities. On staff in-service days, carve out some time just to let teachers accomplish what they need to do.
- Personalize professional learning. First, consider what the best time of day is to hold professional development time. After school is often not the best time for weary teachers. Online resources let them complete professional learning when it’s convenient for them. Next, revisit the topics you cover during professional development. While certain topics must be covered, not all are relevant for all teachers’ classrooms. Anytime you can, let teachers choose their professional learning. They know their students best, and having the opportunity to explore new ideas they think will benefit their students will keep them engaged in professional development.
Avanti is an online PD resource platform that provides professional support for teachers, allowing them to complete professional learning in short bursts at any time that works for them. Teachers get access to hundreds of three-to-five-minute videos containing easy-to-follow, easy-to-implement strategies on relevant topics from actual teachers who are actively working in classrooms. Take a two-minute tour today and learn more about Avanti for your school or district.