Teacher motivation and staff buy-in for a PBIS initiative can take some time. There is no easy button and a solid PBIS initiative may take three to five years to fully implement. Ultimately, you want at least 80% of your staff to participate in PBIS if you expect it to be effective. And the sudden switch to distance learning might feel like one more challenge in your PBIS plans. It doesn’t have to be! Staying the course with your PBIS initiative can be just what you need to keep teachers motivated during distance learning.
Teacher Motivation During Distance Learning
It’s hard for your staff not to feel as if they’re on their own island, no matter how engaged they are with their students. They miss the daily contact of their colleagues, the routines of their classrooms, and the in-person collaboration with other teachers. A little recognition can go a long way under ordinary circumstances, so just think how much it can help in a distance learning situation.
If you’re a school or district using PBIS Rewards, you already have a way to recognize your staff for their efforts, in real time! Workplace Rewards for Teachers is included in PBIS Rewards, and it works much in the same way PBIS Rewards works for your students. It’s a place for admins and staff to recognize each other and redeem points for meaningful incentives.
How to Use Workplace Rewards for Teachers During Distance Learning
If you haven’t made full use of the Workplace Rewards for Teachers feature in PBIS Rewards, distance learning can be a great time to rev up recognition. But where do you start, and how do you keep teacher motivation going?
Start at the Top
Administrative support and commitment to change is imperative. Leaders need to anticipate challenges and questions that the staff may have in order to keep a clear focus on PBIS goals. You may need to retool your behavior matrix to reflect your distance learning environment. Seek out staff feedback via surveys, polls, and/or personal contact.
Set Realistic Expectations
Teachers want to meet the needs of their students but also balance the needs and demands of being at home with their families. Remind staff to set small goals that are achievable.
Set Them Up for Success
No matter where you are in implementing PBIS, training is critical to success. The PBIS Rewards app and web portal are simple to use, but you may want to offer training to help your staff really dig in to everything the software has to offer. There are plenty of other digital platforms available to make teaching and communicating easy, as well.
Get Their Input
Ask teachers what is happening in their classes and on their teaching teams. Send out surveys to gather their input. What do they need? What do their students need? Areas of concern? Incentives/Rewards they would enjoy? Staff members need to feel comfortable asking for help.
Hit the High Points
Keep to your core idea and common goal. Many of your staff members are not accustomed to providing distance learning over the long term. Try not to overwhelm staff with too much information or technology. What you share should touch on the biggest takeaway(s) that your staff needs.
Give Them the Feels
Teacher incentives! How do they feel when they receive acknowledgments? Teachers are the same as kids. Incentives could include entering teacher names into a raffle for a gift card that can be mailed, admin taking over a class Zoom meeting, or hosting a happy hour for a grade level. Using Workplace Rewards for Teachers can help you to provide feedback to your staff by recommending points as well as encouraging them to request points.
Tell a Good Story
Ask a staff member who is having success with online learning to be an expert and share their story. Use a great video to provide the shared experiences staff can relate to.
Help staff make connections by organizing online social events. Teachers like to have fun, too! Consider virtual spirit days, Where’s Waldo in Your Room?, Kahoot trivia games, Happy Hour, Zoom Pictionary, Zoom from different locations in your house, and/or a private Facebook page for staff members. Connect with others in small groups and encourage staff members to reach out to those beyond their immediate circle.
Take a Time Out
Encourage staff members to focus on self-care. Provide examples of self-care or challenge/Bingo board that can be completed.
Be a Flex-pert
As the distance learning landscape continues to change, flexibility is going to be a key! Your staff has insight into how well virtual learning is going for their students. You may need to modify your PBIS initiative based on their feedback. Be ready as the leader!
Acknowledging Your Staff
As distance learning becomes a long-term solution for many school districts, school leaders will want to acknowledge staff for their efforts. Consider these ideas for point-worthy acknowledgment:
- Turning in lesson plans by the deadline
- Attending and participating in webinar meetings
- Going above and beyond to help a fellow staff member
- Willingness to try a new technology tool
- Utilizing PBIS Rewards with students and parents
- Attending professional development (various webinars, book studies, etc.)
- Sharing PBIS successes with staff members during online staff meeting
- Grade levels or departments that work together (lesson planning, using new technology tools, etc.)
- Integrating information about PBIS into newsletters that are sent home to parents
- Participation for staff spirit events (crazy hair staff meetings, meme competition, best snack competition)
As you continue to adapt to the virtual school environment, you will find plenty of opportunities to acknowledge and reward your staff. Just be sure to communicate any new incentives to your team to motivate them and show your appreciation.
Teacher Incentives During Distance Learning
School staff needs differ from school to school, and you will want to consider what kinds of incentives will keep teacher motivation high. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Incentives for grade levels or departments
- Host grade-level celebratory events (Video Conferencing Staff Lounge or Happy Hour)
- Allow students to nominate teachers for incentives
- Raffle electronic gift card or mail gift card
- Prizes to be given when school resumes
- Staff member can present daily announcements
- “Snail Mail” with notes of encouragement for staff members
Again, poll your staff for ideas about the kinds of incentives they would like to see. Keep in mind that virtual incentives or items that can be delivered electronically can have an immediate impact on staff morale. Don’t be afraid to think creatively!
Other Ways You Can Help Staff Stay Motivated
Recognition and rewards are nice and will be appreciated, but sometimes your staff members just need a little assist from their school leaders. Ask them what they need from you to help their virtual teaching time go more smoothly! You can provide assistance to your staff by:
- Creating templates completed for teachers (easy fill-in-the-blank forms to send home)
- Creating scripts for parent emails or phone calls
- Surveys sent out to check on social-emotional well-being of staff
- Providing daily announcements
- Consolidating community information in a single source at regular intervals that can be expected by families (daily Facebook messages, weekly newsletters, etc.)
However you decide to acknowledge and assist your staff during distance learning, know that Workplace Rewards for Teachers can help make it easier. Your staff is working hard to make sure their students get what they need – give them great feedback and lots of positive recognition. You’ll help to keep teacher motivation moving forward through a challenging time!
Register for our Flash Webinar!
Join us on April 17th at 10 am CDT for a Flash Webinar as we discuss how to promote teacher motivation and staff buy-in for PBIS during distance learning. We’ll be joined by a panel of educators, just like you. Register today!