Why teacher morale relies on clarity, competence and community

'Lack of clarity is one of the biggest stress points for teachers'
By: | October 19, 2020

What are the 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 connecting with each other,” says Mielke, whose school is part of Plainwell Community Schools.

To achieve this clarity, administrators can create a centralized information hub where teachers can find details on academic expectations.

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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.”

By “competence,” Mielke means that teachers 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 every new piece of technology, at least not right away.

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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.

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

“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 our attitudes, actions and response to circumstances—such as giving a solid effort to getting better sleep and exercise, gratitude and mindfulness.”

Next story: A few leading causes of low teacher morale ⇒