Why and how to improve school teacher morale

Why and how to improve school teacher morale

Why and how to improve school teacher morale

Teacher morale is a major problem in private and public schools. Low morale reduces engagement with colleagues and students, reduces productivity, reduces student learning, and breeds cynicism. On the other hand, when morale is high and teacher culture is healthy, students excel socially and academically, teachers are productive and collaborative, and the school environment is dynamic and engaging. Given the important role that teacher morale plays, schools must work continuously to improve teacher morale.

The main factors that influence morale are school leadership, workload, compensation, student behavior, and professional development. Effective and supportive leaders contribute significantly to high morale, while weak leaders and low morale go hand in hand. Clearly, teaching is intense, relentless and demanding intellectually, emotionally and physically. In addition to teaching, teachers have many other responsibilities such as curriculum development, supervising recess, extracurricular activities, marketing, fundraising, and administrative paperwork. Feeling overwhelmed with so many responsibilities contributes to low morale. Naturally, being overworked and underpaid is a recipe for moral disaster. Student behavior problems are another major cause of low teacher morale, especially when teachers don’t have the tools to deal with the problems. Finally, access to professional development plays a major role in determining morale.

School leadership: School leaders have an extremely demanding and complex job. Many take leadership positions without proper training. Even with excellent training and experience, school leaders face extremely complex challenges on a daily basis. Continuing leadership training, executive coaching and professional development are critical for school leaders to provide powerful leadership and ensure high teacher morale.

Teacher workload: There may be no way around the fact that a teacher’s workload is heavy. However, when the faculty pushes and pulls together, hard work is much more fun. In fact, in my experience as a school principal, teacher morale was at the top of the charts when faculty were heavily involved in major initiatives that required extensive work. Involving teachers in decision making, planning and problem solving, and creating collaborative teams to share the workload go a long way in keeping morale high.

Compensation: Competitive remuneration is important. However, the key to compensation as it affects morale is the system for determining wages and raises. If teachers feel the system is unfair, compensation, no matter the amount, will hurt morale. Equity is largely assessed by the perceived fit between an individual’s value to the school and that individual’s reward. To compensate fairly, schools must abandon traditional “tiered” systems and implement systems that link compensation and performance.

Student Conduct: Teachers face increasingly complex demands in meeting the needs of their students in both private and public schools. From antisocial behavior to special needs to apathy across the socioeconomic spectrum, teachers are experiencing increasing problems with behavior management. Two major initiatives by schools will help solve this problem. First, it is important to provide behavior management training for teachers who struggle with discipline. Second, faculty and staff must work together as a school-wide team to address behavioral challenges.

Professional Development: Professional development is directly related to student achievement, and teacher satisfaction is directly related to student achievement. Teachers and schools that value professional development or adult learning create the conditions for students to value learning as well. When students make excellent academic and social progress, teachers feel the benefits of their profession. Providing meaningful and effective professional development for teachers is central to successful schools and high teacher morale.

#improve #school #teacher #morale

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