Even with all of the excitement and anticipation your staff brings into each new school year, there will come a point at which they are tired, stressed, and lacking motivation. Teaching can sometimes be best described as a marathon, not a sprint. As the school year progresses, your teachers will inevitably grow weary. Keeping teachers motivated can be a challenge, particularly in the weeks leading up to school breaks, when students are distracted. What can administrators do?
Keeping Teachers Motivated
Give Recognition and Praise
Your staff wants to feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work, as well as for the little things they do to lift up their students. Tell them! A personal note in their mailbox, acknowledgment in a staff meeting, and/or an expression of gratitude in front of their class are all great ways to let them know you’ve noticed.
Encourage Teachers to Praise Others
Teachers notice the great things their colleagues do for their students, so ask them to share that with you. If you’ve already built a culture of positivity through your willingness to openly praise your staff, they’ll follow your lead. Praise and recognition among your teachers will spill over into the student body, too, so everybody wins. Sometimes the simplest ideas bring the greatest rewards, like positive teacher referrals.
Give Teachers a Break
Sometimes teachers just need a few minutes away from the pressures of the classroom. A short walk around the block or school campus, a coffee break (where they can actually drink their coffee while it’s hot), or an opportunity to visit with the front office staff can help to reset their energy level in the short term. If your schedule allows it, offer to take over their classroom for a class period and give them time to catch their breath. (Bonus: students love it when the principal comes to teach their class!)
A small token of appreciation can do wonders for teacher motivation. If your data shows real progress toward goals, rewarding your staff will let them know that you’ve noticed. Rewards can include offering a themed dress day, providing a catered lunch, or giving them gift certificates, among other things. If you have a teacher rewards program in place, letting them choose their own rewards will assure they receive the things they want most.
In many schools, the PTO regularly delivers goodies to the office or teacher’s lounge to show their appreciation for the staff’s hard work. Not many teachers will turn down free breakfast or lunch! Work with your PTO to give your staff a special meal during crunch time. Or, bring in something homemade from your own kitchen.
Give Teachers a Voice
Empowering teachers by asking for their input on schoolwide decisions can be a huge boost to teacher morale. After all, they are in the classroom every day, and they see firsthand the results of front office decisions. It’s likely your staff has plenty of worthy ideas that would benefit the school – all you have to do is ask.
It’s easy to let the day-to-day of administration create a barrier between you and your staff. There are plenty of decisions to be made and goals to meet, but don’t let these get in the way of regular contact with your staff. Your teachers need to know that you support them and take their ideas and concerns seriously. An open-door policy will encourage communication and make you better informed about what is happening in your school.
Happy Teachers Mean Successful Students
Keeping teachers motivated is important to your student success. Engaged and motivated teachers are your most powerful resource for improving student performance. However, when a teacher struggles to maintain motivation, it’s difficult for students to stay motivated, as well.
As a school administrator, one of your roles is to provide leadership during these rough patches. Fortunately, challenging times rarely last. Keeping teachers motivated can help to limit episodes of flagging enthusiasm among your staff. Showing your appreciation through recognition, rewards, and communication will go a long way toward building a positive school culture!