Staff Trends for Fall 2021 Semester

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teacher high fiving a student!

Amanda Richards, Possip’s Reporting Team Lead, pulled data from our 2021-2022 school year staff Pulse Checks to provide you with the top 10 staff trends for the fall 2021 semester!

Top 10 Feedback Trends from Possip Staff in the 2021 School Year so Far

Following our year-end family trends blog last week, we wanted to share out top 10 trends from teachers and staff for the fall 2021 semester. Like we mentioned in our family blog, the end of the calendar year is a great time to look back on the school year so far. Teachers and school staff members have been challenged in so many ways and also accomplished so many amazing things this school year. Our trends blog this week will cover the top 10 biggest trends we’ve heard from staff members and teachers so far this school year. In conclusion, we hope this will help you reflect on the past and continue shaping future actions based on staff feedback and needs. 

Since the beginning of the 2021 fall semester, Possip has heard from over 6,500 unique staff members through Possip Pulse Checks! As an average for the year, 53% of staff members stated they were happy with their school.

Here is what has been on the minds of teachers, staff, and support professionals the past 4 months…

Trend #1: Teacher Workload

This was the top trending topic from teachers and staff members across the country. Teachers are sharing that their workload continues to increase and their current task load is unsustainable. Staff members are asking questions about how the district will:

  • prioritize manageable workloads for teachers
  • equitable workloads for all staff members
  • increasing planning time to complete all of the required tasks
  • a focus on decreasing the current load on teachers’ plates

Trend #2: Mask Usage and COVID Safety Measures

Staff members shared worries, praises, and questions about COVID safety procedures on campuses. This continues to be a trend and is moving towards conversations around vaccination mandates and ending previous mask mandates in some of our Possip partner states. The main points of conversation were around:

  • their personal safety mask mandates
  • concerns about student and staff absences due to COVID quarantines
  • questions about future changes to COVID safety procedures
  • questions about sanitizing/clearing protocols on campus

Trend #3: Compensation

Compensation for teachers and other school staff members has been a large point of discussion this school year. Additionally, many teachers feel salaries are not competitive with other roles and feel good teachers will leave the profession in the future if compensation doesn’t increase. Staff members are advocating for:

  • a higher pay
  • stipends
  • employee retention incentives
  • more compensation for the additional responsibilities they are taking on

Trend #4: Sharing Feedback About Curriculum

Teachers are sharing feedback about the number of formal assessments, feeling like pacing is too rushed, and requests for more autonomy in their curriculum creation. Interestingly, both teachers and parents are requesting similar things in terms of curriculum changes. 

Trend #5: Student discipline

Teachers are sharing that student behavior in the class is unlike past years and has been impeding the learning process. School staff members are asking for more:

  • logical and consistent consequences from leadership
  • information on how to support students’ social-emotional needs while maintaining a strong classroom culture
  • schoolwide behavior initiatives

Trend #6: Training on New Technologies or Practices

Teachers and staff want additional training on new things they are being asked to implement. They are also requesting less non-essential or repetitive professional development sessions or meetings. Specific requests include:

  • social-emotional learning topics
  • special education best practices
  • how to help academically struggling students
  • new technology systems they are using

Trend #7 Mental Health Support for Students and Teachers

School staff members are also heavily discussing mental health support topics for both students and themselves. Many teachers are sharing that they and their students are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, overworked, and stressed. Teachers also shared that they are struggling with work-life balance and being overwhelmed and want extra mental health days for teachers in the school calendar this year. Teachers are requesting:

  • larger counseling teams
  • information on how to support students with severe anxiety and mental health needs
  • more effective counseling options for teachers and students
  • extra mental health days

For additional information, check out this article explaining the association between COVID and increased mental health crises in education.

Trend #8: Increase in Duties and Responsibilities

Teachers are sharing feedback that they have too many extra duties and responsibilities being added to their daily task list. They are also requesting to decrease their need to take on extra duties like recess duty, lunch duty, arrival, and dismissal duty, subbing classes, and filling in on discipline duties. School staff members are commenting that they:

  • are pulled in too many directions
  • want duties and responsibilities evenly distributed
  • need things taken off the plate as soon as possible

Trend #9: School Schedule Feedback

Teachers feel like the school day is too long for both teachers and students and are requesting shortened days. Additionally, they are also requesting adding one early release day during the week for:

  • extra teacher work time
  • shorter class periods
  • more planning time in the school day
  • more brain breaks for students added to the school schedule

Trend #10: More Communication

This includes more communication from the district leaders, more communication within the school and from department heads, more streamlined communication instead of having to check multiple apps and platforms, and requests for more proactive communication. School staff members are also sharing that there are many last-minute requests or last-minute events planned that would like to be discussed in advance. 

Additionally, we wanted to share a few noteworthy trends that didn’t make the top 10 trends, but we thought they were interesting to highlight: 

  • We heard a lot of feedback, ideas, and comments about substitute teachers. This ended up as #12 on our staff trends list this year. Some specific substitute teacher topics that were shared include finding more substitutes for the sub pool, hiring permanent building substitutes, increasing substitute pay, and having more apprecation events or incentives for subsitutes. Overall, teachers are asking to not to be pulled for sub coverage and don’t want to combine rosters and make unreasonable class sizes.
  • Technology needs from teachers were also still near the top of the list. Specifically, teachers want more consistent access to class set of chromebooks and reliable internet access, one-to-one technology for students, and requests to streamline all the different apps, programs, and tech systems they are required to use as teachers.
Want to hear what FAMILIES were saying during the fall semester 2021? Check out the blog here!

In conclusion, thank you to all of the staff for participating in our Possip Pulse Checks this school year! Uplifting your voices in unity has helped identify staff trends from the fall 2021 semester. We want your voice to be heard and expressed to the right people as often as possible so keep sharing your thoughts, concerns, and ideas! 

If you have questions about these trends, how to resolve them in your school, or have feedback on our trends blog, please reach out to amanda@possip.com