Here are some suggestions for administrators
As controversial as this topic may be, we are at a point where teachers both know and don’t know what they need. Given a survey of social media threads, articles, blogs, vlogs, commentaries, and in-person conversations, it’s clear that there area some common threads amidst them all. So, what can administrators and teacher-leaders do to learn what their teachers need?
Here’s a quick survey of what teachers actually need and some suggestions for possible solutions that may begin to provide them with these things: respect, more time, support, and safety & security.
Teachers are faced with an incredible workload each day, wearing an entire array of hats on a daily basis, from counselor to educator and beyond.
But it seems they still aren’t respected for their training or trusted for their craft. There are other options that could replace the daily presentations of information, such as individual accountability plans instead of sweeping mandates. Teacher leaders and administrators can highlight what each teacher does best and support them in improving where they need support instead of spending their time reviewing lesson plan after lesson plan.
Teacher’s time is a precious commodity, with each second more critical than ever to both educate and positively influence their students. With more requirements, more technology, more tests, and more pressure, actual, REAL teaching time is happening less and less in classrooms.
Spend time in each classroom, observing what teachers do best. Speak to students, observing and sharing successes. Leverage support in your building when you see someone strong where another lacks - that’s a natural mentorship opportunity. Give the teachers a 10-minute break where you, the administrator, steps in and manages things for 10 minutes.
And ask them where they see some time-saving options. You’ll find areas for saving minutes that you may have never considered from your perspective. Ask the teachers. They will tell you.
Respect from parents often runs low, and teachers need to feel like their teacher-leaders and administrators have their back. Teachers want the benefit of the doubt when parents complain. Teachers need someone in their corner willing to both support them and guide them if they do need help.
Teachers also need to feel like their teacher-leaders and administrators are going to bat for them with district supervisors and the community. They want to be listened to, feel heard, and see active solutions being worked on to the issues they’ve presented. Chances are it’s taken them a long time to try to solve the problem on their own in their individual classrooms before they’ve come for help.
SAFETY & SECURITY.
It’s hard to teach when active shooter drills and plans foster both anxiety and a piece of preparedness for each classroom. As violence in schools continues to increase, teachers themselves don’t feel safe. Anxiety leads to stress leads to distractions from focusing on our students, who are experiencing their own brand of anxiety and stress.
How are we ensuring our teachers feel safe in their classrooms, school buildings, and on their campuses?
One solution may be to ask the teachers: what would you need to feel more safe in your classroom? What could we do to make you feel more secure and able to breathe deeper on a daily basis? They solve lots of other problems every minute of the day. Maybe your teachers have a solution that specifically fits the needs of your school community. Just ask.
The bottom line here? ASK THE TEACHERS. They know better than anyone what they actively need and are natural problem solvers. All you have to do is trust them and ask.