As an administrator, you’ve got to make sure teacher appreciation isn’t just a day or a week, but that it happens all year and in the ways your teachers need.
May 7-11 is Teacher Appreciation Week. PTAs all over the country are gearing up to show teachers some love. There are usually breakfasts and lunches held to appreciate the teachers. And there are gifts! Teachers get showered with homemade cards from their students and gift cards for coffee, massages, and their favorite stores and restaurants.
But this time of year can be really tough for teachers. End of year testing is stressful. Student behavior becomes an issue as the school year winds down. Grades and report cards are due soon and teachers are burning out. Despite all of the appreciation they may feel now, the hard work they put in all year is catching up with them.
As an administrator, you’ve got to make sure teacher appreciation isn’t just a day or a week, but that it happens all year and in the ways your teachers need. Here’s why:
Teacher Retention and Burnout Are Big Issues in Education
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 8 percent of teachers leave the profession every year. About 38 percent of those teachers retire and another 29 percent move into school or district jobs that aren’t primarily teaching roles. Still, that leaves about a third who leave the profession completely to find work in new fields. When asked why they were leaving, the top five reasons included lack of planning time (60 percent), too heavy a workload (51 percent), too many students in a classroom (50 percent), too low a salary (48 percent), and problematic student behavior (44 percent).
Teacher shortages are seen in specific areas including mathematics, science, special education, English language development, and foreign languages. When teachers leave the classroom, they often are replaced by inexperienced and underqualified teachers. So, these underqualified teachers coming in to high-needs areas are likely to experience the same types of challenges - and ultimately dissatisfaction - that the previous teachers faced. They’ll feel overworked and overwhelmed by having to teach a subject in which they may not be not specialists or feel confident. And, after some time, they may join the ranks of the teachers before them and leave the profession altogether.
How to REALLY Help Teachers
As an administrator, there’s not much you can do to address some of the pain points for teachers. You probably don’t have much say in compensation. But there are areas you can impact like planning time and workload - the top two reasons for teacher turnover. No, you can’t add more hours to the day, but you can make lesson planning easier by providing tools that teachers can use immediately. Instead of spending precious hours googling a science topic and searching for relevant YouTube videos or class activities, teachers can take an out-of-the-box program, like EduSmart, and deliver a thoughtful, creative lesson with no extra work on their part. A resource like Edusmart, which covers both math and science, is particularly critical in helping teachers who may not feel confident in teaching those high-needs areas. As one science coordinator recently told us, “With EduSmart, I can ask a teacher to teach a lesson even though they may have limited knowledge of the concepts we are trying to teach. They can do it correctly because the program guides them through it.”
So, this year, amidst the cakes and cards and kudos celebrating your teachers, consider the gift teachers will most value - and that is having the tools, resources and support to make their jobs easier and more effective. That kind of investment in teacher satisfaction is one with real payoff.