School leaders can take targeted steps that will improve the K-12 teacher experience--a critical move as teachers face mounting stress.

3 things that will improve your teachers’ school experience

School leaders can take targeted steps that will improve the K-12 teacher experience

With growing concerns over health and safety, staff shortages and more, teachers are feeling the pressure. As a matter of fact, 90 percent of the educator-members of the National Education Association say that feeling burnt out is a serious problem–which in turn, is putting student learning at risk.

In order to overcome these challenges, K-12 leaders need to identify the drivers behind them. By gaining a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the end-to-end K-12 teacher experience, school leaders can take steps to better support teachers.

A recent study of 1,000 U.S. teachers highlighted that key performance indicators such as engagement (the feeling of accomplishment), inclusion (the ability to reach full potential) and well-being (relationships and motivation) show room for improvement across K-12 grade levels.

While this mission-driven set of individuals gave the highest scores of agreement with the statement, “My work gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment,” they also reported the lowest levels of agreement on statements such as, “I feel energized at work” and “at this school, everyone can succeed to their full potential.” In terms of engagement, only 65 percent of K-12 teachers agree that their school motivates them to do more than is normally required to do their work.

In general, teachers want to stay at their schools and build meaningful and lasting relationships with students and staff, but this research shows that only 40 percent of K-12 teachers plan to work at the same school for more than five years, and 10 percent plan to leave within six months.

When school leaders listen to their employees with the intention to understand and act on insights, it allows them to design experiences meant to improve the overall teacher experience. Looking at all aspects of the teacher experience, including genuine emotions and feelings, provides unmatched data that can truly shape the future of teaching.

Here are three keys for building a better future for teachers.

Listen to your people – all of them, all the time

Always-on listening is at the heart of effective experience management. By obtaining a regular pulse of emotions of teachers, administrators, and faculty, school leaders in education can gain continuous, real-time insight into day-to-day realities and how they affect the organization as a whole, and most importantly, the student learning experience. It’s critical that this type of communication occurs more than once a school year.

It’s vital to listen to the full staff too, not just the veteran teachers or new hires. Collecting information from across the team and comparing key takeaways allows leaders to gain a full picture of what’s going on. This process makes it possible to generate curated experiences that address the unique needs of individual educators.

Gain understanding by diving into the data

Gathering data is foundational to understanding the employee experience. Focus on a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that will have the most impact on your team’s success. We have seen that KPIs such as engagement, inclusion, and well-being are critical factors for retention and future career success.

What’s more, experience data uncovers the why behind their experiences, which not only helps address present needs, but also allows you to spot common trends and anticipate future issues. A mature experience management system makes it possible to compare results over time, identify specific emotions and experience gaps, and suggest follow-up actions based on reliable insight into what’s needed for success.

Act on insights to instigate change

Once you identify the what and the why, it’s time to determine how to make improvements. Listening and understanding don’t mean much if you don’t act on the information you’ve gathered. Whether you’ve learned that your staff needs more access to mental health services, a greater sense of connection and belonging, or better benefits – it’s time to make it happen. Be sure to communicate these actions, completed or planned, so your people know that you’ve heard them, are working to get to the bottom of challenges and care enough to take action to improve their K-12 career experience.

Experience management–or in other words, this intentional and ongoing process of listening, understanding, and acting–is designed to help leaders make data-driven decisions to positively impact key outcomes in education. It works best when technology is combined with a culture of action where all employees are able to give feedback and are empowered to make changes needed for greater success.

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