Being an educator is challenging. There are so many facets of the job that are out of their control. There are also many areas where administrators can step in and make changes to alleviate stress, workload and reduce burnout. It’s never too late in the school year to assess the campus climate and culture to ensure that teachers are being supported and heard. Here are some ways you can help ease the workloads of teachers.
- Survey teachers and staff to “check their pulse” – see what their concerns are, what’s working and what isn’t. Where is their workload heaviest? What do they need help with? This could be a short survey done online. The key is that you really listen and work with teachers to implement solutions.
- Create a collaborative culture – a community that works together toward a common goal is far more effective than an “every man for himself” climate. Schools, where everything is “top-down,” stifle teacher participation and limit the overall campus growth. Collaborative planning allows educators to reclaim time and reduce their workload. Being able to work with grade-level and subject-level teams on campus allows teachers to share ideas and workload.
- Schedule planning time for teachers (and leave it alone) – many schools already have this time scheduled for teachers whether it’s daily or weekly, but it is often interrupted by meetings and other tasks. This time is essential for teacher collaboration, and individual preparation. It takes time to prepare materials and ensure content knowledge for effective instruction. Ben Franklin sums it up nicely, “by failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.”
- Provide mentors – everyone struggles at one time or another. Your survey may tell you that some might need a little extra assurance and support. Team them up with someone who has “been there” and can offer a little extra guidance. You could also assign someone from their team just to check in on them and offer them some extra resources. Sometimes the biggest burden a teacher has is “in their own head” and they can’t see that they really are doing a great job.
- Support work-life balance – the pandemic pushed this to the forefront. Teachers were teaching from home. In essence, they were never “off the clock.” Work-life balance is always a challenge for educators and administrators during the best of times. As administrators, you set the example. If you “live at school” and are constantly sending after-hours emails, you’re sending a message to your teachers that you aren’t taking time for yourself. Work together to set boundaries for after-hours emails and manage expectations about communication with families and students.
Just as there are so many different personalities with so many needs on campus, there are a myriad of solutions for ways to decrease teacher burdens and workloads. Hopefully, these five ways to lighten teacher burdens will make your campus a better place.
Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.