3 keys to building teacher morale during COVID

Have you considered sharing a reel of Zoom teaching bloopers?
By: | September 14, 2020
Teachers are eager to participate in professional development, particularly when it comes to new ed-tech platforms used in online learning, an instructional coach says. (GettyImages/ South_agency)Teachers are eager to participate in professional development, particularly when it comes to new ed-tech platforms used in online learning, an instructional coach says. (GettyImages/ South_agency)

What are the three keys to keeping morale up during COVID and the shifts to online and hybrid learning?

Clarity, competence and community, says Chase Mielke, an instructional coach at Plainwell High School in Michigan who presents regularly on preventing teacher burnout and related issues.

“Teachers want to have clarity about expectations, competence in the strategies, and community in connect with each other,” says Mielke, whose school is part of Plainwell Community Schools. “My advice for administrators is to articulate expectations as thoroughly as possible. Don’t bury information in multiple e-mails.”

To achieve this clarity, administrators should strongly consider creating a centralized information hub where teachers—and the community—can find details on academic expectations and other matters.


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“Lack of clarity is one of the biggest stress points for teachers,” Mielke says. “My advice for administrators is to articulate expectations as thoroughly as possible. Don’t bury information in multiple e-mails.”

PD is crucial during COVID

By “competence,” Mielke means that teaches are hungry for instructional support and professional development, particularly when it comes to new ed-tech platforms used in online learning.

“One of my biggest missions is to help people give themselves permission to not do everything all at once, to not feel like they have to be masterful at this—because no one is at this point,” he says.

In other words, teachers shouldn’t feel like they have to become experts at everything new piece of technology during the first few weeks of schools.

And when it comes to community, administrators should remember to encourage educators to have fun and remind everyone that it’s OK to make mistakes, Mielke says.


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Some districts, for example, have compiled blooper reels of funny things that have happened during Zoom sessions, he says.

Administrators should also be checking in regularly with teachers on their mental wellbeing, just as teachers should be connecting with students beyond academics.

“A lot of the time, we think that what is critical for our wellbeing is for circumstance to chance,” Mielke says. “But it’s more out attitudes, actions and response to circumstances—such as giving a solid effort to getting better sleep and exercise, gratitude, and mindfulness.”


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.