As the new academic year begins, the environment is—once again—unlike any other. Many teachers are entering the classroom without trepidation rather than optimism.
Administrators, teachers, and staff are the foundation of great schools. They unlock students’ academic, social, and emotional development. Yet one in five new administrators leave their jobs within the first five years. This turnover has a big financial impact on school districts. It’s also detrimental to relationships with students and staff and slows implementation of school improvement plans.
Teachers’ unions, superintendents’ organizations, parent groups, and community leaders all recognize that an inherently stressful workplace became even more stressful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent surveys like this one provide a closer look at just how dire the situation is.
Three in five school leaders say they “often” or “always” feel stressed at work, twice the rate of other workers. The causes range from a lack of technical support to worries about implementation of COVID-19 safety measures.
Six best practices to put in place now
So how can your district and your school do a better job of supporting these crucial leaders? In a recent webinar hosted by our Founder and CEO Joanna Smith, we explored six ways to scale administrators’ superpowers in your district right now.
Establish standards for communication with administrators, staff, and families—and stick to them. Model these standards from the top down as a collective learning community so everyone knows what they are and recognizes their importance. Put systems in place to ensure that the standards are being followed.
Work hard to conserve administrators’ time rather than treating it as something to be spent freely. While it’s true that school leaders and administrative staff are in a position of a greater responsibility by the very nature of their jobs, it’s important to have empathy for the limits of their endurance—especially now. Technology can be leveraged to support the goal of freeing up their time for the most important interactions.
Make time and opportunity for administrators to collaborate on a top priority when building a schedule. Sometimes responsibilities and tasks become siloed, whether within a school or within a department at the district level. Formalize times and opportunities for staff to share their accomplishments and successes and pitfalls they’ve encountered.
Give families unlimited, 24/7 access to one-to-one, transformative, innovative, research-based support. Conversational artificial intelligence delivered via text—the technology that the AllHere Virtual Advisor is built on—is an example of this research-based support. Such tools free administrative staff to focus on the most impactful interactions with families and students.
Reduce administrative tasks that have little or nothing to do with teaching or supporting students. First, collect information on all the responsibilities school leaders and administrative staff routinely handle. Prioritize them. Then decide what can be reassigned temporarily, what can be automated, and what can be permanently offloaded.
Encourage administrators to suggest more efficient ways to organize their time and responsibilities. While the start of the school year is always overwhelming, patterns quickly emerge—and addressing the major inefficiencies now will give your administrative staff more opportunities to step fully into their superpowers as the year goes on.
By implementing these six best practices now, school and district leader can make a real impact on their administrative teams’ stress levels. That will have a ripple effect to other educators, teachers, students, and families.