How to Build Teacher Morale

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Teacher burnout is a growing issue in today's society. Teachers are under a great deal of pressure, and sometimes their jobs can seem impossible! This lesson provides some suggestions for administrators and coaches who would like to improve teacher morale.

Teacher Morale Impacts Us All

Being a teacher is not an easy job. Teachers face pressure from families and administrators; they have to worry about test scores, students' physical and emotional wellbeing, and the pressure of adhering to stringent curriculum standards. What's more, teachers often don't receive the social status of some other professionals; we often see the media and politicians unfairly blaming teachers for all that goes wrong in education.

Therefore, it is the role of administrators, coaches, and other professionals who work in schools to help boost teacher morale. Teachers who feel good about their jobs are more effective. What's more, they feel better and spread positive feelings among their students. Additionally, they are more likely to stay in the teaching profession longer.

Talk It Over

Principal William works at an elementary school with a group of highly devoted teachers. The poverty level among students is high, and many of the students are English-language learners. Principal William feels that the teachers at his school work tirelessly to meet their students' needs.

Unfortunately, standardized test scores at Principal William's school have been low, and he has come under a great deal of pressure to get teachers to raise students' scores. He has several staff meetings during which he focuses on how to increase test scores. After these meetings, Principal William notices that morale is really low. It occurs to him that he has enacted new policies without giving teachers a chance to talk it out. Principal William holds a new meeting in which he asks teachers to voice their opinions and feelings about the test score pressure. Principal William listens carefully. He cannot honor all of the teachers' wishes, due to external pressures, but he vows to do what he can. He notices, most importantly, that just the chance to talk with him and one another about their experiences has already boosted morale. From then on, Principal William decides that when he needs to make big changes, he will talk it through with teachers as much as possible and provide support for their emotional needs.

talking it over

Honor Teachers' Time and Personal Lives

Dr. Adams is a principal of a high school where teachers tend to be hard-working and enthusiastic. Dr. Adams believes in her teachers, and she believes in their professional development. At the same time, though, Dr. Adams makes sure to focus on respecting her teachers' personal lives and time. For instance, if she notices teachers staying very late, she pulls them aside and asks them if she can occasionally offer support to complete work during the school day. She is careful to ask questions regarding teachers' families, hobbies, and health. She also never asks teachers to do more professional development than she thinks is reasonable, and she is careful not to call or email them outside of the confines of the school day. Dr. Adams knows that teaching is important but that teachers are people who enjoy their work and do a better job at it when she respects their time and their lives outside of their jobs.

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