In the face of ongoing, nationwide staff shortages, school administrators don’t need scientific evidence to know that teachers with high levels of job satisfaction are far more likely to remain in their classrooms. However, ample research, such as 2021 research and meta-analysis of 12 previous studies in the journal Cogent Education, confirms the significant effects of teacher empowerment on job satisfaction. Therefore, thoughtful and enhanced teacher empowerment is critical to teacher retention efforts.
Results in the Cogent Education meta-analysis include findings that more empowered teachers report lower levels of strain, which can lead to harmful feelings of teacher burnout. Involvement in decision-making, control over their daily teaching activities, and growth opportunities are among the most essential empowering aspects of teachers’ everyday work lives.
Five Ways to Help Teachers Feel Empowered
1. Give Teachers a Voice
Your teachers are your district’s greatest asset. They can bring unique insights to decision-making on many vital issues affecting school operations and students’ academic development. Teachers should feel confident that they have a say and that school leaders and administrators hear their voices and consider their opinions. With nearly every school facing funding shortages and budget gaps, teachers increasingly spend their own pay on classroom supplies. By including teachers in allocation talks for new classroom resources and learning tools, you empower them to advocate for what they believe will significantly impact their students’ achievement. Actively involving teachers in planning and significant decisions can positively affect a school’s culture and sense of community.
2. Lend Teachers a Listening Ear
Supportive friends and family can be helpful and effective sounding boards for teachers. However, not everyone in a teacher’s life will genuinely understand everything educators face the same as their peers and school leaders. A 2022 study published in Current Psychology revealed that principals, in their supervisory role, can promote teacher retention by listening to them. By reassuring them that you hear and understand their concerns and challenges, you can earn their trust by following through and following up on important topics.
3. Celebrate and Praise Teachers
Considering everything they do and the number of lives and young minds they touch, teachers often don’t receive the levels of praise and recognition they deserve. Complimenting someone on their work makes them feel valued. At the same time, make sure your praise is not false but based on true accomplishment. To authentically empower teachers, make it a personal point of emphasis to privately congratulate and thank teachers for their continued hard work and publicly celebrate those achieving success among their peers.
4. Lighten Teachers’ Workload and Give Fewer Administrative Responsibilities
A workload overburdened by administrative tasks, field trip planning, student-chaperoning, and other outside-the-classroom tasks limits teachers’ time to innovate and devote themselves to the empowering parts of their jobs that spark joy or lead to creative, impactful classroom solutions. Unrelated teaching tasks such as disciplining students and excess communication with parents also drain time.
Some ways to give teachers back some time in their day include:
- Soliciting the help of non-teacher school staff, parents, and community volunteers to handle non-teaching tasks and free up teachers’ time
- Enacting more effective disciplinary policies for addressing behavioral problems
- Setting up schoolwide communications to eliminate needless calls to the teachers
- Saving only the most critical information for shorter staff meetings while regularly communicating most news electronically
5. Give Teachers Autonomy in Professional Development
Allow teachers to choose professional learning and development resources that best align with their areas of need, topics of interest, or individual learning preferences.
Education is a lifelong pursuit, but many teachers are more likely to participate in professional development when they’re empowered to play an active role in dictating the direction of their ongoing learning.
Avanti can supplement traditional PD with an on-demand platform that empowers teachers to choose what—and when—they want to hone their skills or learn a new, proven strategy. Brief video lessons feature real master teachers modeling each strategy, discussing its benefits, and providing tips for immediate implementation in approximately five minutes or less.
Retain your teachers by empowering them with the tools, resources, and autonomy they need to succeed. Effective leadership isn’t necessarily about having all the right answers—it’s about helping people find them. Reach out to our team today to learn more about empowering your teachers’ long-term growth with Avanti.