- Teachers are facing unique, challenging circumstances right now… but so are administrators!
- Tips to connect with and support the educators in your district, building, or on your team.
Our teachers are doing the work of supporting our students in unprecedented circumstances. They are adding skills to their toolboxes in real time and balancing the needs of their own family with those of “their kids” from their classrooms. They continue to ask the hard questions about how students are feeling and continue to create and celebrate great moments with them.
My role in serving them as an administrator is much the same, but it looks a bit different now that I have lost the luxury of proximity. I hope that I never again underestimate the value of sharing a chat during a hall duty, popping in to check on teachers, and joining in with the learning fun.My role in serving them as an administrator is much the same, but it looks a bit different now that I have lost the luxury of proximity. Click To Tweet
So, how can I make sure that the teachers know they are supported and valued now that we are working remotely? Continuing what we already started is one way, but I have had to add more efforts to cover the gap created by physical distance. Hopefully some of these ideas can support your efforts with your colleagues!
Monday morning affirmations
I use Remind groups, but you can use any text service to schedule an encouraging message to your teachers. I’ve been doing this for a few years now.
I wondered if the extra contact was added stress under the circumstances, but I have had more responses and reactions since our campus closure. These groups are voluntary so only teachers who wish to participate receive the Monday morning message.
Mindful Moments sessions
Members of our faculty connect once a month to consider mindfulness topics/activities and to support each other. We have already had one virtual Mindful Moments meeting and have set a time for the next!
Self-care must be incorporated into the schedule, and this is one way to keep that going. Again, this is something we are maintaining rather than starting, but you could also begin a gratitude club, fitness accountability group, or some other wellness centered group to remind your teachers that their wellness matters.
Open office hours
I start each day with a drop-in virtual meeting. Teachers can pop in and ask questions, share their experiences, connect with each other to coordinate calls to families, and can share their feedback on what our families need from our district. My teachers have always been comfortable stopping me, coming by my office, etc., and this open office hour in the morning gives them a chance to pop by in a virtual way.
Just like when we are face to face, if you must say, “I’ll get back to you,” mean it and follow up!
Be gentle with their inbox
Try even harder than before to send information only to those who need it, and refrain from reply all responses unless absolutely necessary. Give people permission to respond with a thumbs up emoji and/or let them know that every email does not require a reply.
Even if you choose to work in the evening or early morning hours, schedule your emails to reach them during their work day.
Share your appreciation with a note
Sometimes there’s no better way to convey your appreciation for your colleagues than by breaking out some blank cards and taking a moment to write to them. I tried to do this when we were on campus, and have made a commitment to write a quick note to each of our teachers thanking them for all their remote learning work since I am not able to offer my gratitude and support in person.
It may seem like a huge task, but if you have a stack of blank cards handy, you can get a few done during webinars or even during a break to take in some television. Once you get in a groove, you would be surprised how quickly you can get this done!
Organize wellness activities
See what resources might be free and available. Any help you can provide vetting wellness resources saves your teachers time.
Offer to arrange online virtual wellness sessions so they can practice mindfulness, yoga, or workouts as a group. And join them! Be the administrator who isn’t afraid to struggle through a workout with them. Create a fitness/wellness bingo board to them. Remind them to reference it so they keep looking for self-care opportunities.
Remind them that they are entitled to their sick days
Yes, even during remote teaching and learning. Teachers want to honor their students and the work. You may need to remind them very directly that taking sick days as needed for their own health is one way they can keep themselves healthy and able to withstand the decision fatigue of all the changes to their work.
I look forward to sharing a campus with our teachers again and hope this challenging time only strengthens our bond! Tag me on Twitter (@PGwithJG) to share your ideas so I can keep growing![scroll down to keep reading]
ABOUT JACQUELINE GOODBURN
Jacqueline is currently the Director of Staff Development at Burgettstown Area School District. We are a “Small town with a Big Heart!” I earned degrees and credentials from Penn State University, Robert Morris University, and Duquesne University. I spent ten years working in social services before transitioning to education. My belief is in servant leadership, and I strive to support our teachers through professional development that offers choice in timing, topic, and delivery as well as opportunities for teacher to teacher training. In order for our teachers to shine, they must be at their best, so I also run Mindful Moments groups and other wellness activities that keep us connected. I believe that our teachers are the most important component in learning, and my role is to offer strategies and support so our students have the very best practitioners working with them.