Possip has grown significantly in the number of staff pulse checks we send to school and district staff this year! That has made this year an extra exciting back-to-school time and something we are celebrating on the Possip team. Hearing from staff members is so crucial, especially during this time when teacher retention and staff shortages are top of mind for many families and school communities.
We wanted to share some back-to-school trends that we heard from staff members through Possip to not only share important information to make schools better but to acknowledge and empathize with concerns and feedback educators have across the country.
We’ve heard from over 6,000 staff members this year and over 64% of them are happy with working at their school.
Overall, many of the topics from last year to this year are persisting, as you’ll see below in the top 10 trends. However, we are seeing that more staff members are feeling stressed and overwhelmed earlier in the year than in the past. They also are advocating more for higher compensation and recognition for all their hard work, which was also a repeated trend from last year. However, the happiness of staff members was higher than last year by 8%, so it looks intentional efforts may be happening to boost morale and positivity on campuses!
Here are the top trends from this past month:
#1: Teacher Workloads
We heard staff members use terms like “too much on my plate”, “overworked”, and worries about “getting it all done”. Teachers are taking on extra duties and don’t feel like they have enough help, time, or resources to complete their long to-do lists. Teachers are already advocating for more balance and sustainability for this school year.
Staff members are sharing feedback that they don’t feel like the work they are doing is matching the workload. Also, they feel that teaching positions should have more competitive pay overall. Teachers are asking for pay raises, increased benefits, stipends for additional work, and bonuses throughout the year.
#3: Administration Feedback
Teachers feel their administration may not be providing enough support. In addition, they feel they are sharing leadership areas of growth. On the flip side, some teachers feel micromanaged and are getting feedback from leaders unproductively. Teachers also want to feel more listened to, respected, and connected to their administration team. They also want communication, expectations, and presence from leadership to be more consistent and effective. In some of our Possip partner schools, leadership teams have been new and trust has not been built yet.
#4: Student Discipline and Behavior
We also heard that teachers feel a lack of support with disciplinary incidents on campus and requests for more support in certain areas of the building, including hallways and the cafeteria. Teachers are sharing that they are seeing more violent behavior from students and are asking for more ways to build consistent schoolwide classroom expectations and behavior plan implementation. Staff members shared they don’t feel respected on the day-to-day by students and want support from administration that focuses on student accountability of their behaviors.
#5: Professional Development Sessions and Teacher Training
Teachers are asking for more differentiated PD sessions that really increase the effectiveness for all. Similar to the teacher workload trend, teachers want to be able to have the option to opt out if it isn’t essential to them. This way, they can make more time for deadlines or work completion. We also heard requests for filmed asynchronous training that can be done flexibly after deadlines are met. Teachers are also relating training to teacher vacancies. They are asking that teachers don’t have to physically leave during the school day for training so all classes can be covered. Staff members also gave ideas to increase training for new teachers and substitutes to ensure those educators are set up for success.
#6: Staff Shortages and Teacher Vacancies
Teachers were asking questions about hiring timelines and wondering when positions would be filled. We also are still hearing a continuation from last year around a lack of substitutes on campus. This is leading to large class sizes and requests for permanent subs at each school to consistently fill needed teacher vacancies.
There was feedback provided around requesting more support to implement the new curriculum this year. They want more time to get comfortable with the curriculum before teaching it. Also, there are requests to hear teacher voices in curriculum decisions. We also heard that teachers need more time to plan their curriculum, the chosen curriculum is dry and students are not engaged, and it’s not differentiated so it’s either too slow or too fast for students.
#8: Planning Time
Teachers noted that the current planning periods are not productive when used for campus or content-wide planning, they need more time overall in the schedule for planning, and that time is being taken up by too many meetings (ARDs, 504 meetings, parent conferences, etc.). Teachers truly believe planning time is related to retention, and that if teachers have more time to complete their work and have planning periods during the day, it would lead to fewer vacancies and more stable schools.
#9: Facilities and Cleanliness
Teachers need better air conditioning on campus, and better cleaning practices in classrooms and around campus. In addition, there were requests for classroom furniture or to fix things in classrooms. Many of these things are normal for back-to-school time. However, this was also a trend we saw with staff members at the end of last year that has continued.
Teachers want consistent and effective communication from their administration and district leaders. They shared feedback about slow response time to emails sent to school/district leaders. Also, they reported non-proactive communication and last minute reschedules. Staff members also shared a need for substitutes to have access to all necessary school communication methods. Substitutes want to be successful and “in the know” on campus.