The U.S. Department of Education “Return to School Roadmap,” published in August 2021, lists three “Landmark” priorities for the 2021-22 school year: prioritizing the health and safety of students, staff, and educators; building school communities and supporting students’ social, emotional, and mental health; and accelerating academic achievement.
For teachers, the responsibilities that accompany the latter two priorities are significant. K-12 teachers have carried a heavy load over the last 18 months. Whether teaching in a remote, hybrid, or in-person model—or any combination of the three—teachers stepped and adjusted their instruction, as needed, to not only teach their students but to be a consistent presence in an uncertain and uneasy time.
The weight on teachers continues to be a heavy one, and as the new school year begins, what can school administrators do to support teachers’ well-being and help teachers successfully balance meeting students’ social-emotional and academic learning needs?
Addressing Teacher Well-Being
Many articles have highlighted the stress and strain felt by teachers during the last year and a half. These articles raise concerns about teachers’ mental health and provide some ideas for supporting teachers’ well-being so that they can, in turn, support their students. The two articles below offer practical suggestions for supporting teachers’ well-being at school:
This spring 2021 article published by ASCD highlights four ideas that schools are using that prioritize educator and staff well-being and capacity to support students:
This Greater Good article (originally published by EdSurge in 2020) provides ideas for how administrators can help minimize the anxiety felt by many teachers today. These include:
Supporting Teachers During New Program Implementations
Much has also been discussed about accelerating student learning and achievement after more than a year of disrupted instruction. When thinking about what administrators can do to ensure teachers have the resources and tools they need to help accelerate the learning in their classrooms, here are a few key ideas to consider when providing new programs to teachers:
The weight on teachers has never been greater. In the new school year, schools and districts can make that weight a little lighter by providing educators with the resources to support their emotional well-being as well as the tools to meet their students’ social-emotional needs and accelerate their academic achievement.