My district’s problems could be compared to a slice of swiss cheese. There are many problems, and some problems may appear to be the larger holes while other problems appear much smaller. Concerns include behavior, absenteeism, gaps in learning, lack of substitutes, teacher recruitment, distrust, and overall educator burnout. These are just a few problems or holes in our slice of cheese this year. One overarching problem that encompasses others is morale.
Morale is pretty low with teachers. The stress of teaching hybrid, taking on new reporting systems for standard-based grading, and a new curriculum have all taken place over this past year. In addition, substitute teachers are scarce this year, requiring other classroom teachers to voluntarily give up their prep time to cover classes lacking a teacher. In short, teachers are exhausted.
The lack of engagement with students is evident with misbehaviors. Student write-ups are increasing as well as phone calls home. Students have many incomplete assignments and are no longer motivated to learn or attend school. Students will miss for sicknesses but randomly miss school for “mental health” days.
More parents are showing up at school board meetings and expressing distrust of how things operate. In addition, some parents are taking to social media to discuss their complaints.
It all seems like gloom and doom, but my district has put several pivotal solutions in place to increase morale. Targeting each group, you see how these are all intertwined.
Our school has implemented several essential programs to help better meet the needs of our parents. Providing them a forum to discuss issues before board meetings is one way to encourage parent involvement. We also recently started a Parent Advisory Committee for each school. Allowing parents to have a voice in the decision-making process. Lastly, offering resources such as a family support center and parent guidance.org to help encourage positive communication with the school district.
Our district has also put support in place for our students. For example, incentive days- are just one new idea to increase participation and completion of assignments—special field trips to motivate students to further their learning beyond the classroom. Additionally, we are providing after-school tutoring and extension activities for students. Lastly, teachers and administration are working together to plan celebrations for student success.
My district is also supporting staff through appreciation and recognition. For example, a “Teacher of the Month” award is given to an outstanding staff member. The administration has also increased communication to include positive emails and encouraging notes in our staff mailboxes. Lastly, the administration has several planned celebrations (with treats and gift card drawings) to show appreciation for the hard work going on this year among all staff!
Nationwide when we look at education, my district, though tiny in comparison, still has similar problems. I like Swiss Cheese because it has a distinct taste and directly results from the cheese-making process. While schools are continually poked with holes because many issues still exist, we are creative problem solvers by developing solutions that will transform education.
To learn more about how to implement SEL and PBIS programs, contact Agile Education Marketing today.