Our Tips for Engaging and Retaining Teachers and Staff
Through staff pulse checks, we see teachers and staff members have a diverse array of thoughts and feelings about their satisfaction – and about what is being asked of them during this time. Some are excited and ready. Others are struggling with the trials and tribulations of this year – and truthfully, every year. That is what inspired this blog post about engaging and retaining staff.
I started to write this blog to help those working with teachers and staff continue and grow their support of teachers and staff. As I penned this post I found myself convicted as a leader of our team. I had to stop to consider all of the needs outside of our work that might be top of mind for my team members. I found myself thinking about some of the things that are top of mind for me: as a human, a mom, an employee.
So as you think about supporting staff and teachers, here are a few ideas:
Create Formal and Informal Mechanisms for Ongoing Feedback and Conversation
Possip is a great formal mechanism for a routine pulse check. It can help create equity: where you hear from everyone and everyone has an equal (or more equal) chance to share. So we believe a formal, routine mechanism is critical. But schools should make use of other tools as well.
In addition to formal mechanisms, you also need informal, more organic mechanisms. Informal tools can include intentional meetings, places, and spaces where teachers, staff and administrators come together. With virtual work there aren’t as many “water cooler” conversations… or parking lot conversations.
What are informal ways to learn about the needs and ideas of those on your staff?
Does every one of your team members have a routine, weekly conversation where they can answer the question “How are you – no really, how are you?” to a person?
Here are some questions we recommend to get the second, deeper answer beneath “How are you?”
Consider Policies and Practices Through a Hierarchy of Needs
While talk about “self-care” is common, the reality of how to do it is more nebulous. It’s important to consider your teachers and staff when planning policies for engaging and retaining them. As you’re thinking through systems, policies, and practices, consider some of these questions.
- Do teachers or staff have what they need outside of school? Particularly, this is an important consideration for first-year teachers and assistant teachers or other staff member who may face financial vulnerabilities. Do they have their food, shelter, and physiological needs cared for?
- Does your staff feel physically safe at school? Do they feel healthy? Do they team feel like their family is safe?
- Are they learning and growing? Do they feel able to grow and become the best professional version of themselves?
- Do they feel connected? Do they feel a sense of belonging to both their school community and to an external community? Do they feel cared for and connected?
- Does your staff end their days with some sense of accomplishment and achievement? Do they feel successful?
You don’t need concrete answers to these questions, but as you consider opportunities or gaps in your culture or policies, these considerations could help you to tap into the mental, physical, or emotional space your team members may be in.
Offer Ways for Team Members to Be Known
One constant we hear – from family members and school and district staff – is a desire to be seen and known. There are many ways to make people feel seen, heard, and known. Here are a few ideas:
- Ensure that structures like grade-team meetings or department meetings are happening routinely.
- Use the information you get from Possip pulse checks or other systems to share shout-outs with team members, departments, or areas.
- Whip-around questions. People like to joke about whip-around questions, but they work! Just as cheesy camp songs still work in building community and fun, whip-around questions work too! At Possip we are pretty proud of our whip-around questions. We’re sharing a few of our favorites here.
Need Help with Teacher Engagement and Retention?
At Possip, we have created a platform primed for community, parent, and teacher engagement. To learn more about our approach to closing the communication gap, contact us for a demo today.