Three key areas district and school leaders should focus on for the 2022-23 school year.
Instill the Pride Back Into the Teaching Profession
It’s no secret that teachers are leaving the profession in record numbers, but beyond burnout, the presenters think teachers no longer feel valued. They offered several strategies to boost teacher confidence.
- Take a look at teacher load–even before the pandemic they were almost at capacity. While educators may have the ability to accomplish tasks beyond just teaching, it doesn’t mean that they should be asked to take on more. Listen to teachers who say they can’t do any more and support all of them with resources that remove the burden of being the teacher, the counselor, the disciplinarian, the social worker, etc.
- Keep track of where teachers are thriving and build a list of best practices to use across the district. Show teachers that you want to create a supportive environment that understands and addresses their needs. For instance, if they don’t already have one, help them develop an online professional learning community where they can get assistance when they need it.
- Promote teachers in the community. Share their work and their successes. Make sure parents understand the depth of the teachers’ roles in their children’s lives. Instead of negative conversations blaming teachers for any learning loss or other issues from the past few years, invite your constituents to celebrate all teachers have done to continue educating and nurturing their children.
Create an Individual Plan for Each Student
Schools are talking about learning loss, but many don’t have a clear picture of what students know, where they need help, and what their goals are. And even when schools know, they’re not always looking at individual student needs.
As schools look to accelerate learning and “catch up,” they shouldn’t focus on test scores and assessments. Instead, help them create learning portfolios that demonstrate their competencies, showcase their interests, and make them excited about coming to school.
Then, using these portfolios as a base, develop comprehensive learner records that discuss more than attendance and assessments. These can include, for example, activities in and out of school. Teachers and parents can use these records to prep for the upcoming school year.
Continue to Innovate and Update How You Deliver and Support Education
For as many issues that arose during the pandemic, it also forced schools to figure out how to work outside of the classroom. According to the presenters, this was a long time coming as education needed to change to align with the needs of 21st century learners and employers.
Now that schools are mostly in person, don’t throw away some of the innovations from before. For example, if students can learn anywhere at any time, do they actually need to attend school in person every day?
Of course, schools received federal funding to help them through the pandemic. And although that funding will stop, the innovation shouldn’t. Start looking at how to allocate funds for long-term change and support.