In our blog a couple of weeks ago we talked about the difficulties teachers are experiencing including stress, exhaustion and burnout. However, it is important to note that in the face of all of this uncertainty, there is hope. As leaders in education, if we want to keep our teachers engaged and excited about teaching, here are some steps we must take:
Assess Your Culture – sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the trees. Because we’ve always done things a certain way, leaders and employees may continue to engage in behaviors that worked well in the past but may no longer be effective in our rapidly changing environment. It’s also easy to get set in our own ways of thinking and our own assessment of what is occurring. Conducting a culture assessment will identify where there are gaps between teachers’ perceptions and administrations’ perceptions. It can help assess how staff connects, builds relationships, and gets work done. An assessment also builds support and engages leaders to accept their role in shaping the desired culture going forward. Once everyone is on the same page, you can create intentional strategies to bridge the gaps and change the culture.
Build a Culture of Support – Teachers by nature are some of the most resilient people we know. If they weren’t resilient, they would not be teachers. But teachers are also human and we all need help to revive energy and find new joy and purpose after such an intense period of uncertainty. It is a fact that burnout is minimized and resilience built when we feel supported by others. Finding resilience can be as simple as using breathing exercises before a meeting or structuring meetings in a way that allows teachers to collaborate differently or attend remotely are just small things that show them that you support them. While self-care and individual resiliency strategies are helpful, we must continue to address the underlying issues that cause educator fatigue and burnout. The National Education Association recently published information indicating that increased support, reduced paperwork requirements, and adjusting school hours and breaks are effective support strategies to address educator burnout.
Really Listen – That means focusing on what is being said, how it is being said, and all of the subtle nuances that come from body language. Being heard is a cornerstone in developing trust, which in turn creates an environment of psychological safety. This is defined as a place individuals feel safe speaking up, asking questions, and freely expressing their concerns. Consider conducting a trust assessment which evaluates both trustworthiness of self and team trust level. This will help you meet your team where they are and will help you determine a successful path forward.
The bottom line is this: we need our teachers, and we want them to feel happy, supported and engaged in their work. If our services can help you, we would love to help make this happen. Contact us at email@example.com or 970-279-3330.