Forty–six percent of teachers report feeling high daily stress. Roughly half of teachers believe that “the stress and disappointments involved in teaching aren’t really worth it.” These are the people who are responsible for raising the young minds of America, and we’re losing them.
“Between 30 and 40 percent of teachers leave the profession in their first five years,” says Mark Greenberg, a professor of human development and psychology at Penn State. We’re living in a time where teacher engagement is fading. With the state of school budgets, changing curriculum, and day to day ardor of teaching, things are falling apart.
Just as teachers need to motivate students to stay engaged, teachers also need to be engaged. As a school administrator, keeping teachers motivated is key to the success of your school. You have to inspire and reward teachers to prevent burnout and foster the best learning environments.
Here are 10 ways to keep your teachers engaged during the school year.
1. Recognize and celebrate passion.
Teachers do not sign up to teach for money or fame. They became teachers for the love of sharing and helping young people learn and develop.
Make an effort to rekindle that energy. Ask your staff to remember favorite memories and career highs. Encourage them to make more of those moments with the lessons they love teaching. The best lessons are enjoyable for both students and teachers.
Teaching can be frustrating. Remembering why they got into the profession in the first place can help re-ignite their passion.
2. Give credit where credit’s due.
Praise and recognize when teachers do a great job. Never hesitate to give them due credit for the success of the school. Public recognition of hard work well done can go a long way in keeping teachers engaged. Praise your staff to parents, newsletters, the media, and students.
And don’t forget that different teachers have different strengths. Highlight when they go the extra mile. When teachers recognize their own strengths, they can use them in the classroom causing students to be more engaged and inspired. Use certificates and rewards. Something as small as a thank you note, gift card, or special parking spot can go a long way.
When you’re an administrator, sometimes you can forget what goes on in a classroom. Make a point to visit teachers while they are teaching and take notes on positive work they are doing. Leave a note in the teacher’s mailbox about the great things you saw in their classroom.
Remember, being a teacher isn’t easy.
3. Stay positive and enthusiastic.
Scientists have proven that there is a direct impact of positive interaction in our work and personal life. Notice the wonderful things that are going on in your school on a regular basis. Ask teachers to share their best lessons and really listen to them. Remain receptive and motivate with your words and body language. Show your happiness with staff and find out what you could do to help them have more moments like that.
Foster an environment for sharing and encourage teachers to work together. Research shows teacher collaboration helps increase student achievement. According to researcher Carrie Leana, her study found that “students showed higher gains in math achievement when their teachers reported frequent conversations with their peers that centered on math, and when there was a feeling of trust or closeness among teachers.”
Offer suggestions on how to give positive, constructive advice. Set up mentorships for new teachers with senior teachers. This can help acclimate new hires and enable staff to connect. Create a culture for everyone to share goods ideas in person, on staff room walls, emails, and online forums. Supportive feedback, joint lesson planning, and peer observations can help make each teacher remain engaged in perfecting their craft.
5. Give time.
Every second spent on paperwork is taking time spent on creating quality learning, and meeting time with students one-on-one. Offer help to create more time in your teacher’s schedules. The more balanced their workload, the better time spent on teaching impactful courses.
6. Open-door policy
Stay connected. To better understand your teacher’s needs having an open-door policy is essential. Sometimes people may wait to come to you with a problem until it has gotten big. That’s why you need to be present at school and in classrooms. Be sure to engage, listen, and offer help.
7. Empathize with bad times
It’s good to stay positive, but sometimes you have to empathize when things are not going well. Let’s say you’re introducing a new curriculum requirement. Instead of punishing them when things don’t go well, offer solutions and support to seamlessly transition.
The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley stresses recognizing, understanding, and managing emotions is “key to building healthy relationships and achieving academic, career and life goals.”
8. Recognize high-stress times.
Report card season and exam-marking times can be highly stressful. This becomes even more difficult for teachers with tons of classes. During these times, avoid new initiatives and additional stressors. Offer a hand with lessons, planning, and duties. Find ways to help teachers free up time so they do not get overwhelmed. For example, offer to cover a lunch supervision shift.
9. Offer opportunities for growth.
Help teachers perfect their craft by offering as many opportunities for growth as you can within the school. You can arrange placements in your school and other schools so that teachers can shadow someone they admire. Develop a reputation as a school where enthusiastic teachers can come and grow.
Teachers have time for professional development feel valued. It also motivates them to obtain new outlooks, methods, and knowledge. Encourage them to seek supplement education outside of school and stay open to their suggestions. Teacher-centered learning environments support student-centered learning environments.
10. Stay flexible
Always remain flexible especially when staff asks for time off. If a colleague has an outside interest, be as flexible as you can. Everyone needs proper time off. Time away from the classroom allows teachers to refresh. Extra days off is a great cost-effective way to reward teachers who regularly exceed expectations.
Teachers are there to inspire and share the subjects they love. However, there are many things that can wear teachers down. As an administrator, take time to make your teachers feel appreciated and maintain engaged in the work they love. A positive moment, a kind word, or an act of service can help teachers catch their breath and resume teaching with passion.