What Your Teachers Really Need: 6 Things to Consider Going into the 2021/2022 School Year…

You’ve probably already noticed the wide array of feelings and expectations from teachers as they have returned to the 2021/2022 school year. From the teacher who can’t wait to hug all of her students, to the teacher who desperately wants to teach virtually, you are already managing fears, hopes and expectations. On top of that, enter the terms “Critical Race Theory” and “Equity” and “Social-Emotional Learning” and all of the misconceptions, confusion, passion, and fear that is falling on the first of the school year like a thick cloud…

You have your hands full. And that doesn’t even take into account your own personal feelings, fears and expectations.

So where do you start? You have to run a building, work out the logistical details that come with starting a new school year, and welcome everyone with a smile on your face, but what do your teachers really need from you?

  1. Authenticity – Don’t be afraid to address the issues floating around. Speak on the district’s stance on COVID safety protocols, Critical Race Theory, and anything else pressing, and then give teachers a way to voice their concerns on these topics – send an email, schedule a meeting, have a comment box, etc.
  2. Genuine encouragement and affirmation – general praise and the “You’ve Got This!” and “You’re awesome!” general statements can often times have the reverse effect on teachers. This is where that term “Toxic Positivity” became coined within the education realm. When teachers are showing up, being consistent, showing their students love and positivity, let them know you see it and appreciate it in genuine, authentic ways.
  3. Time – Just as in the last couple of years, there are going to be a lot of adjustments that will need to be made as the year goes on. The best gift you can give your teachers is the gift of time. Do you need to have that staff meeting, or can you send an email? Does every teacher need to be on duty, or could they rotate? Could you get a few subs and give teachers half a day every 6 weeks to plan? Could you cover a teacher’s class to give her an extended planning period every now and then? I know it sounds crazy, but one of the biggest ways you can show you value your teachers is to give them time to plan in order to the deliver the best lessons possible.
  4. To be heard – I alluded to it in #1, but there are going to be issues and challenges that pop up throughout the school year. So many of these are accompanied by emotions and fears and overwhelm. Give your teachers a platform to share those things, whether it’s directly to you, or in another way. And then acknowledge what they’ve shared, even if you can’t fix everything.
  5. Guidance prioritizing– Teachers have so much on their plate. Everything is handed to them like it is the most important thing they need to do. This can be very overwhelming. Help teachers prioritize what is being asked of them, both in what they need to do and what they need to teach.
  6. To feel apart of a tribe or team – Research shows that teachers stay where they feel like they belong, and this happens when they are close to their team and colleagues. Obviously, social gatherings were limited this past year, and may still be limited this next year, but the more you can facilitate this tribal or family feel, the more content your teachers are going to feel. We can all do hard things when we feel like we’re not alone and we enjoy the people we are working with.

Your job is hard, and your leadership is crucial.

Last year, we had an Administrator Symposium where we addressed these very things. Here is a link to hear how other administrators are taking care of their teachers during this unprecedented time.

And for to receive weekly ideas for taking care of your students and teachers, click here to join our community or visit http://www.pressing-onward.org!

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