Teacher morale has taken a nose dive the past two years as educators have worked tirelessly through the pandemic. They’re teaching double time with students in the classroom and learning at home, managing a revolving door of quarantining children for ten days at time, and maneuvering social distancing protocols. On top of that, teachers are trying to care for their ailing families while meeting professional obligations.
Emotional exhaustion is off the charts and job satisfaction has hit an all time low in education. Schools are left spinning their wheels brainstorming ways to lift the spirits of their staff before it’s too late.
There was a survey published recently by the EdWeek Research Center that showed teacher morale plummeting nationwide:
“In a November survey of a nationally representative sample of 817 teachers, nearly three-quarters of teachers say their morale is lower than it was before the pandemic, and 85 percent say overall teacher morale at their school is lower now…42 percent of teachers say the coronavirus pandemic has made them feel less motivated at work… 88 percent of middle and high school teachers say the coronavirus pandemic has made their students less motivated to do their best at school.”
In efforts to retain the staff that remains, we need to pull out all the stops to:
- Acknowledge their tireless effort
- Lessen workload of non-essential compliance tasks
- Celebrate the great things happening in schools because of the teachers
To better support the mental, emotional and physical health of our teachers all stakeholders play a role. Tips for administrators, instructional coaches and teachers themselves are listed below.
The ideas shared below are merely ideas that could help validate teacher feelings, show appreciation, and reduce their feelings of overwhelm. Adjust them to fit the needs of your teachers as necessary.
- Duty Coverage– Release teachers from their lunch, recess, carpool duties etc.
- Limited Staff meetings– Re-prioritize training and information being shared with staff; condense essentials into a newsletter bulletin, email or announcement
- Increased Planning Time– Adjust instructional schedules to allow for additional solo or collaborative planning time
- Limited Extracurriculars– Remove the requirement for teachers to lead extracurricular clubs on campus
- Team Building Events– Create opportunities to build rapport as a staff and school community
- Teacher Treats– Bring in a catered lunch or bring a drink/snack cart around campus
- Casual Passes– Allow staff earn passes to dress casual
- Themed Days– Create fun themed days (ie. spirit week) for staff to dress up
- Music– Play popular music over the loud speaker after hours as teachers work or dismiss early
- Early Release Days– Create a schedule to allow each staff member to leave school immediately after students
- Community Donations -Collect classroom/teacher supply donations from the local businesses in the community
- Reduce Paperwork Requirements– Revise compliance requirements for teachers so that only essential tasks are being checked
- Shout Outs– Design a staff shout out board for peer accolades; write specific, personal notes highlighting teacher strengths and showing appreciation
The ideas shared below are ways to help administration support teachers while creating relationships among staff.
- Socialization– Create opportunities for teachers to socialize with each other to build camaraderie and diminish feelings of isolation
- Mentorship– Assign partnerships among teachers to receive mentorship in areas of weakness to better their classroom performance, seek advice, etc.
- Teacher Awards– Design an award for each teacher based on their strengths and have an award ceremony to celebrate their talent
- Phone-A-Friend– Offer to lend a hand in classrooms by reading, leading an activity, or meeting with a students
- Common Space Decor– Liven up common areas with uplifting quote posters, colorful decor, plants etc.
- Fellowship – Host a monthly meet up for staff to come together and unplug while building relationships with each other
- Self-Care Activities– Advocate for and model self-care measures (ie. rest, exercise, read for pleasure, etc.)
- Giveaways– Host giveaways for teachers to earn products and services in the community
The ideas shared below are ways in which teachers can get the support they need from other stakeholders.
- Encouragement– Provide encouragement to peers as you both navigate similar obstacles
- Listening Ear– Offer to listen to your peers vent so they can get their frustrations out and process their emotions before returning to work
- Laughter– Take time to lighten the load and laugh with colleagues
- Connection– Meet new colleagues, build friendships, find commonalities among staff members to build a sense unity across campus
These tools are ways in which to connect with and support teachers.
- Catch them being amazing– Stop by teachers’ classrooms and provide them with recognition for what they do well and share it with staff
- Reward and encourage – Give teachers incentives for working hard by giving out coupons for redemption
- Get their opinion– Provide teachers with a survey to find out more about how they view their practice and how they wish to be helped & get their feedback after providing a PD session so you can continue to meet their needs
- Give them options– Share ways in which teachers can get support by providing a menu of support to choose from
- Watch peers in action– Allow staff to get inspired by each other by going on learning walks to see each other teach live in front of students
- Set their own goals- Give teacher’s voice and choice in what they want to accomplish as professionals by engaging in a goal setting meeting together
Teachers are the root for which all students flourish. We must take care and nourish the root so that it blossoms for generations to come. These tips are sure to boost teacher morale at your school site!
Go Be Great!
How are you improving teacher morale at your school site?