By Teachers, For Teachers
Over the years there have been several studies showing that there is a link between teacher well-being and student success. The findings suggest that there is indeed a link between how teachers feel about their jobs, and the performance of students. With that being said, if school districts across the globe want their students to succeed inside as well as outside of the classroom, then they must focus on using classroom management to improve teacher well-being and their overall morale. Here are a few classroom management suggestions on how to do that.
Addressing teacher workload is the first step to improving teacher well-being. Think about what is expected of teachers and try and reduce any unnecessary workload. Each year there are policy changes and/or revisions to benchmarks and testing, usually with that comes more work for the staff. Evaluate ways to limit how much a teacher has on her plate. Try gathering staff and asking them to assess their workload. Then take that information and come up with a plan that is beneficial to all.
Seek teacher opinions by setting up a focus group or giving the staff a survey to discuss specific issues that you want or need to address. Teachers want their voices and opinions to be heard, so it is your job to give them the platform to do so. For example, let’s say that the overall consensus is that your staff thinks their workload is too much. Ask each individual teacher to complete a two-week-long diary, recording everything that is expected of them. This will give you an overall idea of what they are talking about. You can also ask teachers to fill out a brief survey at the end of the two weeks describing (in detail) what task they think they should not have to do. Once you receive all of this information, then you can get a whole picture of how you can increase your staff’s well-being.
In today’s age of technology, teachers should not have to spend much time on paperwork, and yet many of them still do. Utilize technology and consider finding different ways to get effective feedback from your staff. If teachers are required to hand in all of their lessons before they are able to teach them, think about if that is really necessary. Are your expectations necessary or outrageous? Can teachers hand in just one lesson a week or one lesson a month for you to get an idea of how they teach and what students are learning? How much evidence do you need to see in order to know the teacher is on track? Ask yourself, is there any easier way?
Every teacher wants to be recognized and appreciated for a job well done. However, in most cases teachers do not get the satisfaction of being patted on the back. Teacher praise is a powerful motivator, and just as students like to feel recognized for their efforts, so do teachers. Whenever possible, administrators should deliver praise to their staff, be it in a traditional ceremony, over the loudspeaker in front of the whole school, in a staff meeting or luncheon, or even by a brief thank-you note. When in doubt, deliver praise and recognition to improve teacher confidence and overall well-being.
Not only should you recognize and praise your staff, but you should also give them your undying support. A realistic outcome of staff well-being: When you have happy teachers that feel supported, you will in turn have happy students that succeed in school. Teachers need to have their voices heard and feel supported. If you feel that you are unable to give your staff the attention and support that they need, then you need to appoint every teacher a mentor who they can go to for support.
Invest in your teachers by providing them with the most up-to-date teaching tools and techniques. Research shows that teachers can spend upwards of $1000 a year out of their own pockets on school supplies and materials. Fight for a larger budget and give your teachers the access they need and the materials they need in order to teach their students and do their job to the best of their ability.
To recap, if you want to improve a school’s overall performance, then you must pay close attention to your staff’s well-being. How a teacher feels each day has a direct effect on their teaching performance. Motivated, confident teachers make their students feel more motivated and confident. Unhappy, unmotivated teachers have a direct reflection upon their students where in turn the students feel unhappy and unmotivated. Increasing a teacher’s well-being can help lead students to a happier, more successful future. And as you increase a teacher’s well-being, you must also bear in mind that increasing a student’s performance may also help. While all of this may seem like a neverending cycle, with a little work, everyone can be happy and successful.
How do you improve teacher well-being in your school? Do you have any specific ways that you feel work well for your staff members? Please share your experiences and expertise with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.