Wellness is a hot topic these days. Educators are under more stress than ever before. It seems like every time we turn around, schools are in the news for all the wrong reasons: abuse, poor performance, scandals, violence, and crime. This list goes on and on. Working under these conditions can be very stressful on a teaching staff, as they have been tasked with curing our society’s ills by reaching out to one child at a time. These stressful conditions have led to teachers getting sick more often, taking leaves of absence for stress, and for some, quitting the profession all together.
Here are 5 ways administrators can help increase the wellness of teachers so that they can keep teachers happy, healthy, and willing to do this important work.
- Recognize Their Efforts
I often hear teacher say that they don’t need an award or recognition for doing their job. I believe that it is important to honor teachers by recognizing their efforts publically. Having staff members nominate a “Teacher of the Month” to recognize publically will put smiles on faces and allow them to celebrate one of their own. These awards should be shared via the school’s website, social media accounts, and newsletter.
- Cover Classroom for Sick Teachers
No one likes to work when they are sick. However, people who work in fields where they don’t have to interface with others can get by with some cold medicine and tea. Teachers do not have that luxury. They are constantly on a stage, performing for their students. Administrators need to let their teachers know that it is OK to go home when they are sick. Covering a sick teacher’s classroom for a half a day or until a substitute teacher can arrive so that the teacher can get home and rest will not only allow them to feel better sooner, but it also demonstrates that administration cares about the health of their teachers.
- Get To Know Teachers As Individuals
Teachers are not superheroes. They are human. They have good days and bad days. Sometimes, they have really bad days that turn into really bad weeks and months. Administrators need to connect with their teachers on a personal level so that they understand what is going on in their lives. It is hard to get up and have to teach in front of a classroom full of students when your personal life is in disarray. Knowing that your administration cares and supports you won’t solve the problem, but it will make you feel a little better and give you peace of mind that you are not alone.
- Make It Safe For Teachers To Take Risks
Teachers are creative people by nature. They like to try out new concepts, tools, and ideas in their classroom. They understand that education, teaching, and learning are always evolving and that they need to evolve with them too. However, teachers will remain stagnant if they feel pressure to maintain the status quo or feel that they are not allowed to fail. Just as with students, administration must create and maintain a risk-taking environment in order to harness the creativity of teachers and to keep them excited about their profession.
- Focus On Progress, Not Just Scores
In today’s high stakes world of educational testing, teachers feel immense pressure to have their students perform at certain levels each and every year. As a profession, we need to look at progress towards our goals and celebrate forward momentum. If we don’t, teachers can easily become discouraged and fearful that they will be replaced. Celebrating small wins and progress will lead to more wins. Teachers need to be able to celebrate the fruits of their labor. After all, if students are more than just a test score, so are the teachers that work with them.
Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at http://www.principalsdesk.org.