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- “Why Didn’t Anyone Help Me?” The Truth Behind Abused Teachers Who Took Matters Into Their Own Hands - December 16, 2019
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Please listen to your heart. You’ve been wondering why your teachers keep quitting. You keep losing teachers. Transfers, resignations, and complaints keep coming your way. You're concerned about not just your job, but about the person you’re putting on display causing others to run the other way.
Before blaming your teachers, let me ask, Did You S.A.T.?
Did You Give Support?
Not giving teachers real support is one of the reasons why your teachers are quitting.
Calling meetings twice a week, putting them on a Personal Improvement Plan, and doing monthly walkthroughs are not teacher supports. They need you to become familiar with their classroom culture, not just the lesson plans or where they should be on the pacing guide. Do you know who they are and what they value as teachers in your school, or have they become only a number and a body to you?
When your teachers call and ask for help, it’s not because they’re weak. You don’t need to hold a professional development about classroom management. Go into their rooms and observe EVERYTHING, including the students. Notice the ones who give them grief continuously. Then, sit down with that teacher and create a system that works for everyone, including your teacher.
When parents come to the school with a problem, don’t throw your teachers under the bus. Education is a partnership. You must remain a team at all times, and that includes covering and protecting us from outside influences, like district workers and parents of our students.
Lastly, be available. Don’t disappear into meetings every few hours. If you are busy, set up times when your teachers can come and see you...and then stick to those times. In times of panic or chaos, please go and check on them, or at least send a follow-up message. This lets them know you care, even if they were in the wrong.
Did You Show Appreciation?
Lack of appreciation is a big reason why your teachers are quitting. We’re not talking about monthly handshakes and a pat on the back. This isn’t about gifts or prizes. This is about you communicating through words and actions that you appreciate not just what your teachers do but who they are.
They know you can’t give them a brand new school, brand new computers, behavioral support on a daily basis, and pencils every week. That’s not what your teachers are expecting or even want. No matter what school they work in, there will always be broken pencils or Windows 98 computers, or at least one kid hanging from the rafters.
But when your teachers come to work in the morning, are you there to greet them a few days out of the week? When they speak up at a meeting, do you value what they’re saying or do you blow it off? If they have ideas, do you pull them to the side later for deeper insight, or just write it in a journal, never to be heard of again? When you go to their classrooms, do you smile when you watch them teach and interact with their students? Do you compliment your teachers in front of their students? Have you pulled them aside to talk about lesson plans or anything they’ve handed into you?
Your teachers want to be seen and heard and acknowledged, not just as a teacher, but as an individual that brings something to the table.
Did You Create an Environment of Teamwork?
As teachers, they know you receive a lot of directives from those above you. Many of them seem like impossible tasks, but your teachers are there to assist you, not hinder you. Together, you can handle the challenges.
It’s the moment that you try to handle everything yourself, ignore and disregard their thoughts, and toss out demands that they begin to feel like children and not adults. Your “Do It Or Else” attitude makes you look like a dictator, not a leader. There can be much more peace and harmony in the school if you chose to walk alongside them when faced with daunting tasks. Your unspoken rush to get things done only stirs up the ever-present anxiety your teachers already possess.
Hopefully, you remember what it’s like to be a teacher and have a million things dictated to you at once. Didn’t you ever get anxious? Overwhelmed? Burned out?
A Personal Favorite
My favorite administrator was like a hero to me. I was tired, burned out, and trying to remember why I got into this profession in the first place. When I met her, I heard the passion in her voice for not just the students but her teachers. She always greeted them with a smile or at least a handshake. I didn’t have to guess if she was at school. I didn’t have to take a chance to visit her in her office. If I had an idea, she wanted to know more. When she came into my classroom, she would smile as I taught and never left the room without reminding my students how lucky they were to have me.
She complimented how I carried myself as an educator. Even though she used the “strong teacher” method on me, moving me in the middle of the year to deal with a tougher class, I didn’t mind. When I made the transition, she was standing next to me. She promised she would support me, and she did. I honestly would’ve done anything she asked because I trusted her. I knew she wouldn’t give me too much...and even if she did, I trusted the support that she would give me if the load every got too heavy. Within the time I worked for her, I probably received ONE physical gift. But if I’d never received that gift, I wouldn’t have missed it.
You have teachers in your school with the same zeal but because you haven’t S.A.T., you don’t know who they are or what they’re capable of. It saddens me when amazing teachers fall into the hands of an administrator who doesn’t support, appreciate, or work with them. These teachers shrink down and end up doing the bare minimum, when in reality, they could help turn the whole school around.
So during your #TERSchoolFreeSummer, I’m asking you, as a teacher who has the capacity to “go all in” to think about how you can S.A.T this upcoming school year.
I promise you won’t regret it.
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