Motivated teachers are crucial to a successful classroom. But it’s understandable that, as we approach the end of another school year, that positivity can start to dwindle. So, now more than ever, it’s vital to keep staff energised. So, what can head teachers do to help educators go the extra mile and maintain a positive attitude when they are tired and stressed?
1. Recognise teachers’ efforts
It sounds obvious, but a little recognition really does go a long way. As such, one of the most natural things you can do to support your teachers when they are flagging is to tell them how valued they are. To do this, arrange a thank you in front of their class, a personal note in their mailbox, recognition during a staff meeting, or even a celebratory event (e.g. a staff lunch). It may also be worth offering a small token of appreciation for all the hard work your teachers do throughout the year.
Research shows that when you show staff that you see and appreciate their efforts — and demonstrate how much of an impact they are having – those employees feel good about what they do. Besides, nearly 90% of employees who receive recognition or thanks from their employer indicate higher levels of trust in that boss.
When rewarding the efforts of each teacher, you should also highlight what they have done to merit thanks, both in and out of the classroom. This approach allows you to share best practices across your school and create a culture where everyone is inspired to do their very best.
2. Discuss development opportunities
Most people want to feel that they’re learning and progressing in their jobs, and teachers are no exception. But, against a backdrop of enforced cost savings teachers are concerned that, without regular upskilling, they could soon fall behind; particularly when it comes to IT (The State of Technology in Education Report: 2017/18).
However, even on a small budget it is possible to invest in your staff by improving teacher ICT training. Show teachers that you are committed to their future at your school by offering opportunities for development.
3. Encourage feedback
We all like to feel that we are valued and that our opinions matter. Consequently, asking teachers for their input into school decisions can be a massive boost to teacher morale at this wearisome time.
However, at present, teachers remain an unexploited resource when it comes to developing educational strategies, with 66% having no input (The State of Technology in Education Report: 2017/18).
Bringing teachers into the decision-making process, and making sure they feel valued, listened to and understood, will give them a boost in confidence and enthusiasm. What’s more, it will also provide much-needed support to heads, and ensure a higher level of strategic buy-in from all stakeholders on key decisions. It’s a win-win situation.
4. Help teachers keep students engaged
As the end of term approaches, it’s not just teachers who lack motivation. Your students are also distracted. Consequently, any efforts to keep pupils engaged and behaving well are going to make life easier for everyone at your school.
Ways to do this include:
- Bringing experts into the classroom virtually. Video conferencing and Skype can be used to bring experts into the school quickly and easily. Scientists can deliver lessons from their labs and business leaders from the boardroom, and the whole class can interact and ask questions. The range of experts and content providers is endless. Such face-to-face time doesn’t just help to develop communication skills, it also adds value and relevance to lessons, and instils a deeper awareness of global issues. Even better, because these experts don’t have to physically be there, you don’t have to spend any money on professional fees
- Harnessing the power of technology. Schools across the UK are using 3D printers, virtual and augmented reality, social media, podcasts, cloud-based platforms, Promethean ActivPanels, and gaming to help students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and open up new, more engaging styles of learning
- Making learning active. Students don’t learn best from reading a book or looking at a chalkboard. Instead, the ideal way to teach and learn is through interaction and application. School trips are one way to give pupils more hands-on experiences, but teachers can also provide exposure to this type of active learning with VR; right from the comfort of the classroom
- Providing ongoing assessment and feedback. Continuing assessment can be extremely useful to maintain student learning at a time when they are less inclined to put the effort in. Instant assessment tools which let teachers mark and collate responses at the moment of learning are helping educators to do this more effectively. For example, instant assessment technology can also be used to facilitate classroom discussions, with pupils sending their answers, from their devices, in real-time. This learning can then be shared with the whole class, raising questions that further stimulate discussion and engagement.
When seeking to increase engagement with modern learners, it makes sense for teachers to bring technology into the classroom. But, it can be difficult for teachers unaccustomed to edtech to know where to start. With a plethora of ideas and insights on how to build more engaging and collaborative learning environments, including practical and straightforward tips that educators can implement quickly and easily, heads can point teachers in the direction of ResourcEd to uncover new ways to add extra relevance and fun to their lessons.
5. Accept that people do need to slow down
The pressure to fulfil curriculum demands and maintain academic results will take its toll. So, by the end of term (and even more so by the end of the school year), it’s only natural that teachers will need some additional downtime.
Rather than fighting against this, look at how you can build in some slack into timetables to support teacher wellbeing. Sometimes teachers need a quick break from the pressures of the classroom. So, giving them time to walk around the school, catch up with front office staff, or even enjoy a quick cup of coffee can help them catch their breath and reset their energy levels in the short term.
To make a bigger impact, consider doing something off curriculum such as a ‘Drop Everything and Read’ day. This approach will allow teachers to ease off the gas when they need it most.
What do you think needs to be done to help motivate teachers and pupils throughout the school year?