As a school administrator, you’re faced with a range of challenges every day. One of the most common at the moment is mitigating the negative impacts of teacher shortages. After all, without a consistent and functional faculty, the quality of students’ education is likely to suffer.
Therefore, it’s important to examine the elements that affect teacher retention. Some of the key influencers here tend to be those related to educators’ wellness. Teachers often report experiencing extremely stressful conditions–not to mention that various pressures of their careers often see them on the road to burnout.
It’s no wonder, then, that establishing methods to prioritize teacher well-being can help your school retain talent. Let’s take a closer look at some key areas of focus in this regard.
One of the most important considerations for prioritizing teachers’ well-being is the provision of resources. With the median high school teacher salary being around $62,870, educators often don’t have a lot of leeway to pay for physical and mental wellness resources themselves. While all administrators should consider it a priority to arrange fair pay, it’s also important to look at what other resources you can offer.
This should certainly begin with a more robust employee wellness program. Your approach could include providing subsidized access to local gyms and organic food suppliers. It should certainly involve arranging appropriate mental health services, given the level of stress and pressure educators experience. Consider subsidizing telehealth counseling that more effectively fits into teachers’ schedules.
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These efforts can have a tangible impact on retention because they’re geared toward actively improving teachers’ quality of life. The resources make it practical for them to maintain their wellness, which also mitigates absenteeism. Educators can also see that your school’s investment in these resources acts as a meaningful recognition of your responsibility to positively impact their health. As such, they may be more likely to stay with a school that is committed to keeping them well.
One of the common points of concern for many teachers is the lack of meaningful communication with administrators. This isn’t just on a practical working basis. It can also leave educators feeling isolated and unsupported. In turn, the communicative distance can have a negative impact on their experiences of stress, depression, and anxiety in the workplace. Encouraging open and regular communication among your faculty can, therefore, improve teachers’ well-being.
Your approach here should certainly include building a culture of openness around mental health. Normalizing discussions about mental wellness can be instrumental in minimizing stigma on the subject and reducing the hurdles to addressing challenges. It’s important to make sure the tools are in place to facilitate open conversations, though. All staff should be educated to approach such conversations with empathy and compassion. There must also be a commitment to using language during discussions that humanizes people living with mental illness.
So, why does this focus on open and supportive communication make a difference in the retention of educators and help mitigate the impact of the Great Resignation? Well, it gives teachers who may be struggling with workplace stress a comfortable avenue to discuss and address their concerns. In schools where communication isn’t prioritized, teachers may be more likely to simply resign without an explanation or an attempt to resolve such challenges.
Teachers undoubtedly play a pivotal role in community life. As such, there is often a tendency for the boundaries between their careers and their personal lives to be blurred. Indeed, teachers are expected to go much further beyond the limits of their duties than many other professionals. This isn’t necessarily good for their physical or mental wellness. As such, it is vital that you encourage and support teachers in creating healthy boundaries.
Perhaps one of the most important boundaries to set is that of their working hours. Establish protocols within your school that minimize the amount of administrative and extracurricular work educators are expected to do beyond their teaching hours. There should also be a focus on creating boundaries around teachers’ financial burdens. Provide budgets that ensure your staff doesn’t feel obligated to pay for class materials, as has become increasingly common as of late. This can reduce stress and ensure teachers can spend their salaries on items that support their and their families’ wellness.
This can have a significant impact on the retention of teachers in the long term. After all, it demonstrates you understand that teachers need to maintain a healthy work-life balance. A recent Pew Research study found that 53 percent of people who quit their jobs found new employment that made it easier to keep this balance. As such, your encouragement of clear boundaries can be both empowering to teachers and create a stronger faculty base for your school.
As an administrator, it is vital to understand how teachers’ wellness is linked to retention. This allows you to implement measures that both support teachers and mitigate the impact of staff shortages. Your efforts should include providing robust wellness resources, encouraging open communication, and empowering teachers to achieve a healthy work-life balance. By prioritizing teacher well-being in a sustainable way, educators, students, and the entire community stand to benefit.