Districts around the country are finally realizing that something has to be done about the dire situation schools have found themselves in: everyone is leaving, teachers are overwhelmed, and morale is in the toilet.
Drastic times require drastic measures. In order to stop the exodus of teachers and limit teaching shortages, actions are being taken to help. Finally! While some administrators and districts fail to provide any attempt at increasing morale and truly listening to teachers, some are doing just that. And, teachers are appreciative.
Pushing Pause on Meetings and PD
Principals like Dan Marburger from Perry High School in Iowa are hearing the cries for help and putting actions behind their words. “I could read our building and it felt like a wound-up spring ready to uncoil,” Marburger told Bored Teachers. He knew something had to be done for the mental and physical well-being of his staff and students.
So, he pushed pause on many of the meetings that could, in fact, wait. Staff development was reserved for teachers to spend how they wished. What teacher doesn’t have that on their holiday wish list?
Guess what happened? Teachers felt heard and valued. The idea of self-care was actually backed up by actions and not empty words followed by…..”And here’s some more busywork for you.”
Principal Marburger reiterated the positive response from staff by saying, “They seem to appreciate that we are trying to find solutions with them.”
10% Raises and Up to $2,000 in Bonuses
One of the biggest complaints from teachers is how much effort and hours they put into the job compared to how little monetary compensation they get out of it. Everyone expects the reward to be intrinsic, but teachers need to be paid their worth in order to care for their families and be successful at teaching.
Some districts are doing what they can to attract more teachers and keep the ones they have. Education leaders in Rock Hill, South Carolina announced on Nov. 18, 2021 that teachers should expect a bonus by Dec. 21. The district sent a letter saying that the Board of Trustees approved the retention bonus that will give some teachers up to a 2,000 dollar bonus.
Ray Cooper, North Carolina’s Governor is proposing a 10 percent pay increase plus a 2,000-dollar one-time bonus.
Will raises and bonuses be enough to get teachers to say? It certainly can’t hurt.
Expanding School Breaks and Including “Wellness Days”
One thing that teachers can always use is extra time. Many districts responded to the call for extra days to concentrate on mental well-being, recharging, and connection with family.
Cnn reported that Districts in at least six different states including Missouri, Kansas, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and Maryland have amended their schedules to include “wellness days” this school year. They are drastically needed.
More than 20 public school districts across the country extended their Thanksgiving breaks by a few days to allow for mental health days for teachers and students alike.
“My hope is these extra couple of days will allow everyone to take a little extra time for themselves and their families. Family is, after all, much of what Thanksgiving is all about.” – Kelvin R. Adams, Superintendent of St Louis’ School District.
We appreciate the lifesaving flotation devices being thrown at us. Most teachers agree that 2021 has been the hardest year ever. Schools are back to business as usual even though the world has changed drastically. Anything that can improve overall staff morale is needed and valued.
Admin Subbing and Getting Their Feet Wet
There’s a quote by Kurt Vonnegut that says, “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you will look back and they will be the big things.” The small gestures that administrators are making to show that “they get it” and want to help us say a lot.
When principals jump in and sub for a class, so we don’t have to split our students up, it does wonders for school morale. When we find little pick-me-ups in the staff lounge, we know that someone understands that things are tough right now.
The gestures being implemented need to continue and be enacted in every district. This is the only way we will save public education from complete collapse. This is the only way we will attract quality people into the profession.