7 Ways to Take Care of Teachers: Ideas from Our Admin Symposium

The more I work with schools and school districts, the more I’ve realized how isolating it can be to be a campus administrator. The weight of implementing initiatives and taking care of staff and students is great, and sometimes there’s not a whole lot of support in the background. I also realized how many great ideas so many campus administrators have – just waiting to be shared! I would have a conversation with one and think, “Oh – so-and-so could really benefit from this idea! She was just talking about this issue at her campus…”

So, in an effort to bring campus administrators together, administrator symposiums were born. We’ve only done two so far, but the value given and feedback received has been incredible!

Based on the feedback we received from our first symposium, we decided to focus the second symposium, held last week, on taking care of teachers. We know that decreasing teacher overwhelm and increasing their morale is one of the most pressing and difficult challenges an administrator can take on.

Well, my panel of administrators knocked it out of the park again! They shared so many valuable ideas, and I know so many campuses are struggling with this, I thought I’d share. I’m also going to include the link to the replay of the symposium as an added bonus to this blog!

Here are just a few of the amazing ideas shared from our panel of adminstrators:

  • Open Forums – giving teachers the floor, uninterrupted, to voice what is causing the frustration and overwhelm
  • Prioritizing – deciding what we have solutions for now and what we will tackle later – and being transparent with teachers about the why and how each problem is chosen to solve. We know that there are too many issues to tackle all at one time, and quite frankly, we just don’t have the solutions. After talking to many teachers, the general consensus on this is that they understand this issue, but they want to know the plan. They want to know what issues are being tackled, and what is being put on hold and why.
  • Family meetings – I love the idea of calling a safe space to meet with teachers “family meetings” – which sets the stage that we are working on this together, and communication is key.
  • Teacher Brain Breaks – the teachers are given extended breaks when the administrators cover the last 15-20 minutes of a class before their lunch or planning period. The adminstrators can get into the classrooms, see the kids, take care of the teachers, and let teachers go take an extra break!
  • Virtual Brag Boards – teachers and administrators brag on each other, and each teachers who receives a “brag” is entered to win a Sonic drink for the week – but all teachers who receive a “brag” are acknowleged.
  • Listening, Communicating, and being Transparent – teachers understand that things are constantly changing – but sometimes they aren’t given the full information, which leaves a lot of unnecessary frustration.

We also covered the Fearless Living Framework from Sha Sparks:

  1. Acknowledge – Acknowledge the feelings and emotions you’re having (or those around you are having). My biggest takeaway here is that a lot of times, we have two conflicting feelings – and that’s ok! Maybe you are feeling excited that students are sitting in your class, but nervous about personal health and safety. It’s important to understand that just because someone is showing more excitement, and someone is showing more nervousness – it doesn’t mean that you don’t have some share feelings. The more we can acknowledge this, the quicker we’ll be able to accept it in ourselves and others!
  2. Allow – Allow time to process – for you and those you are leading or working with. If a change happens, and teachers are frustrated, allow them the time and space to process through the feelings they are having.
  3. Ask – Ask yourself, “What am I committed to?”
  4. Act – Act on the committment, NOT the outcome! Whew! This is huge! If, as a teacher, you are committed to connecting with the students in your class, then act on this, despite the outcome! If they are absent, sent home, checked out – don’t make your actions based on the outcome. I think this is a huge mindset shift, and I believe that administrators can release teachers to act on their committment and let go of the outcome, especially for this school year!

If you want a deeper dive with Sha Sparks on this framework, check out the latest Teaching By Reaching Podcast episode: Helping Teachers Move from Fear to Action with Sha Sparks!

Here’s the bottom line: We have to have grace. Teachers, if you are frustrated with adminstrators, try to assume positive intent – that they are doing what they believe to be in the best interest of the school. Administrators, every teacher is bringing a different experience to the table, and they will often tell you what they need when given the choice.

To watch a replay of the Administrator Symposium: Taking Care of Teachers, Click HERE!

And to partner with Pressing Onward in moving your campus forward in culturally responsive teaching, visit our website! http://www.pressing-onward.org!

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