3 big shifts that can help you restore your teachers’ morale

Leaders say reimagining classroom instruction will boost teacher morale, but only a handful are experimenting with new approaches.

Whether you’re a superintendent, principal, or at another level of district leadership, you’re definitely not alone if you’re worrying about teacher morale. Almost all administrators said teacher retention and burnout are major issues that will, among other concerns, make recruiting new teachers more difficult in the future, according to a new survey from learning company D2L and District Administration. 

Raising salaries, improving benefits, and providing more wellness support are among the most important factors that survey respondents cited for reducing burnout and increasing retention. But many also said that reimagining classroom instruction could also boost job satisfaction, though only a handful are experimenting with the new approaches:

  1. Four-day school week: Just over half of the administrators surveyed said that a four-day school week—along with flipped classrooms— would improve morale. But only about 10% had either moved to a four-day school week or were considering the change.
  2. Automation of administrative and instructional tasks: 40% of school leaders felt that automating a range of tasks would help by freeing up teacher time but only 14% of those surveyed reported that they were trying to achieve this.
  3. Creative agency: 40% also believe fatigue and burnout could be eased by adopting a flexible curriculum that gives teachers and students more agency, creativity, and opportunities for engagement. But less than half that number said they were adjusting instructional practices in that direction.

While 66% of the leaders surveyed said salary was key for teacher morale, 69% thought reimagining classrooms and instruction was also essential. Still, nearly three-quarters said they expect fatigue and burnout to get worse over the next few years.

Edtech is driving some of the more widely implemented, morale-boosting strategies, such as providing more teachers to collaborate on sharing courses and learning activities. Administrators also are offering teachers personalized and flexible professional development, and adding technology that allows educators to better engage with families.

“It is tempting to view teacher shortages as a short-term pipeline and retention challenge, but it is more symptomatic of a long-term systems challenge that we can help address through new teacher supports and tools that optimize their teaching time and impact,” said Mark Schneiderman, senior director for the future of teaching and learning at D2L. “We can uplift our teachers if we can lift and encourage our teachers’ capacity.”

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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