March 29, 2022
As schools across the nation take a quick breather for spring break, educators are gearing up for what’s perhaps the most challenging time of the year.
Teachers report that their stress level increases by nearly 20% from October to June, and their feelings of school connectedness and efficacy decline. This year they’re facing extra stressors, from COVID-related learning loss heading into the annual standardized testing cycle to upcoming school board elections that have contributed to a tense atmosphere in many districts.
The risk of attrition is so high that states are taking unprecedented steps to keep teachers on the job in both the short term and for the future. For example, in early March, Iowa announced that it will pay full-time classroom teachers $1,000 to complete the remainder of their assignments through the current academic year. Around the same time, Texas launched a task force focused on teacher retention to address staffing shortages across the state.
The pressure is on for schools’ human resource leaders, who rank their top three priorities as teacher recruitment, teacher/staff social and emotional well-being, and teacher retention.
Spotlighting teacher recruitment and retention is bound to lead to innovative approaches and effective strategies … eventually. But meeting the immediate need for teacher support in day-to-day tasks is an urgent challenge.
A Time-Saving Strategy You Can Implement Now
One way that districts can relieve time pressure on teachers and staff right away is to add communication support in the form of two-way chatbot messaging. It’s a convenient, accessible channel for families to receive information from their children’s schools and get answers to routine questions—while decreasing front-line educators’ workload.
This innovative, novel, and evidence-based solution was designed to increase student participation in school, reduce the dropout rate, and build school engagement with students and families. It also saves staff time. The chart shows examples from AllHere’s chatbot implementations within school districts of various sizes in the spring of 2021.
AllHere’s team can set up its platform within weeks for new customers, with minimal extra effort or training on the part of school or district personnel. Once the chatbot is in place, families receive positive, conversational messages that contain relevant information or “nudge” them to take action. Families can also receive on-demand assistance by asking the bot questions—which are answered within seconds using information in the school’s customized, intelligent knowledge base.
In the small percentage of instances where the chatbot doesn’t have the answer, it escalates the incoming text to a designated person for a live response. The new data is then added to the knowledge base, further enhancing its usefulness. This ensures that accurate, timely information continually flows both ways.
Families are acutely aware of the challenges facing teachers, and most of them (73%, according to this poll released last August) are satisfied with their children’s education. They want to be part of the solution and support their schools’ teachers.
When the Lansing School District in Michigan rolled out its chatbot, Mini, both educators and families started to look at two-way communication in a more positive light, said School Improvement Data Integration Specialist Dr. Liesel Carlson. “Families really appreciated that we were able to respond to them so quickly,” she said—but perhaps more importantly, given teachers’ current stress levels, “We were able to maximize our human capital, and AllHere was a key piece of that.”
To learn more about implementing this time-saving technology as part of your comprehensive strategy to address teacher retention, connect with a member of our team.