If teachers need more of a break during this time, pair a teaching assistant, paraprofessional, or even recruit parent volunteers to join advisory time and help support students so that teachers can handle the critical administrative tasks that need to be done.
2. Prioritize well-being–with action, not words
Incorporating social emotional learning, mindfulness, and other practices that support the overall wellbeing of students, educators, and families provides daily opportunities to check in with ourselves and others, but you may have noticed that this year, your community needs more.
Dedicate one day a month or a marking period for a district-wide day of wellness. (Some schools even dedicate one day a week for wellness practices as needed throughout the year!) Take a break from academic classes and coordinate opportunities for students, educators, and families to care for their wellbeing. Jordan School District in Utah and Durham Public Schools in North Carolina have both dedicated days this year to support the mental health and wellness of their communities, empowering families with free resources, suspending academic work for the day, and allowing staff to work remotely. Many schools have had to close or take half days this year as a reaction to overwhelmed educators – either due to teacher absences or loss of staff – so proactively building these moments of pause into your school year can give teachers something to look forward to and connect them to district and community resources to promote their wellbeing.
Schools and districts are also investing more in wellness experiences for educators. During a wellness session, one educator expressed how unfamiliar it felt to hear her colleagues call her by her first name, since they rarely get the opportunity to do so. Moments that allow educators to connect with each other and feel seen as people strengthen the sense of community and buy-in that teachers feel within a school community. The more connected a staff feels, the more they are able to lean on each other for support throughout the busy year.
3. Offer remote flexibility when available
Not all schools and districts are navigating remote learning or school closures, but as those have popped up throughout the year schools have had to adapt. Too many educators found themselves in classrooms with a handful of students, while teaching remotely to the rest of the class. Remote options aren’t going to be feasible every day of the week, or even all year long, but where in teachers’ schedules could they be allowed flexibility in their work location? Is there an afternoon or time dedicated to staff meetings that could be virtual once a month? Can your special education teachers or counselors have the option to spend 1 day a month catching up on paperwork at home? Providing the option, as appropriate, for flexibility can build trust and alleviate stress.
The expectations and workloads of teachers have increased this year, but schools can build dedicated time into the day and year, as well as offer flexible work options when appropriate, to alleviate some of the pressure that teachers are feeling this year.
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