This goes without saying, yet it’s too important not to mention: Educators had a positively traumatic end to the 2019-20 school year, found themselves in a constant state of adaptation in the 2020-21 school year, and entered 2021-22 with a false sense of optimism, almost willing it to be a normal school year. It didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t. In fact, this year has quickly surpassed the stress of 2020-21 and has brought our teachers and administrators to the brink.
In addition, teachers are leaving the profession, and with teacher shortages continuing to make national news, you need to do everything you can to bring your school improvement vision to life. According to recent NEA surveys, nearly 4 in 10 teachers reported that they were considering leaving the teaching profession due to working during the pandemic. Additionally, RAND Corporation reported that 1 in 4 teachers were likely to leave teaching at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, whereas in years prior to the pandemic, one in six were considering the change. So, what can you do? How can you make sure that you are creating a school culture of high satisfaction and retention?
How You Can Help
There’s no magic bullet for this one. Many of the things stressing our teachers (and ourselves) are beyond our control. But there are things you can do to help. We queried administrators across the country to learn what they are doing to help their teachers. Some of the ideas are tried and true, some novel, but they essentially center around valuing time, showing respect, providing support, and expressing gratitude.
|Value Time||Show Respect||Provide Support||Express Gratitude*|
|Prioritize and protect|
|Compensate with federal|
|Check for an Employee|
|Take over a class||Ask for and act on|
|Hire a licensed counselor||Say thank you|
|Have fewer, shorter|
|Be clear about priorities:|
Standards Scoring Sheet
|Call it |
|Hire permanent subs||No new initiatives||Encourage staff to have|
|Relax the dress|
|End classes early 1|
day a week
|Don’t punish the group|
for issues of a few
|Give tools to support|
Avoiding Burnout Checklist
|Bring in a food|
|Teach 4 days a week||Attend PD sessions||Remind one another of their unique value||Leverage your|
The Ultimate List of Stores
*Warning: Implementing anything from this column without implementing actions from the first 2 columns may backfire. Seriously, don’t do that.
Just by reading this article, it’s clear you care about your teachers and recognize how important their well-being is to the success of your school. Thank you. Together, we can weather this storm and come out better on the other side. We must value teacher time, show them respect, provide them support, and express gratitude. With those four things in place, we can retain the expertise of our veteran teachers and attract the innovative ideas of a new generation of educators. I look forward to that day.
By Dawn McCotter, Van Andel Institute for Education
For additional ideas and a more in-depth look into how you can help your teachers, check out VAI Education Spotlight: Teachers on the Brink. For more information on Van Andel Institute for Education, visit vaei.org.
The Principal’s Desk was founded by Dr. David Franklin Dr. Franklin is Strategy Consultant for Nearpod, an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, published author and presenter and has presented at national and international education conferences.