How to Build a Culture of Continuous Teacher Improvement
Teaching is one of the hardest professions in the world. Teaching during a global pandemic? That is superhero-caliber work. Teachers are selfless leaders, inspirers, confidants, and so much more.
But who takes care of teachers and makes sure they are set up to succeed?
The answer is the administration. Schools want good teachers, and good teachers want to be at a school where they feel valued and supported. Implementing and maintaining a culture of teacher improvement and support starts from the top, modeled by administration, and thus allows teachers the autonomy and confidence to effectively do their job.
Check out four easy and effective steps to implement a culture of continuous teacher improvement at your school.
4 Steps to Building a Culture of Continuous Teacher Improvement1. Listen to the educators at your campus.
In a recent survey of teachers at John Paul II Catholic School in Overland Park, Kansas, two issues stood out: teachers need more time and more support.
As educators know, there is not enough time in the day to do it all! At times a teacher’s planning period can be cut short to only 20 minutes in a day. If time is what your educators need, try hiring a sub or two to come in and cover their classes. This allows teachers more time to make those extra copies or analyze student data from a recent assessment.
When a teacher gets to use their personal days off, it’s great. But how often are they actually spent on the teacher’s needs? In the above-mentioned survey, only 33 percent of the teachers felt comfortable taking a mental health day. Dedicate days for teachers to take time off to address their own needs.
When your teaching staff asks for more support, assign mentors or an instructional coach as a resource for them. As an administrator, schedule check-in meetings and send out short surveys to make sure you are meeting your staff’s needs in the best ways possible. Applying a few of these tips each month will ensure you are creating a more positive culture for your educators.2. Listen to the social conversation.
Social media is ever present and provides so many opportunities for teachers and administrators alike to find information and support online. Teachers join Facebook groups with other educators who have similar interests and reply to Twitter chats to answer questions and learn from their peers.
Hashtags like #IgniteYourSHINE and #TeachersPayTeachers were created by exceptional educators to offer leadership tips and suggest ways to become more effective at what they do. There are online companies that provide one-on-one teacher coaching, team coaching, and instructional project design with a focus on high-leverage strategies.
By encouraging your teachers to tap into resources online, you are providing them with a safe space to raise their concerns and to collaborate with other professionals. Check out the website www.WeAreTeachers.com. It offers a place for teachers to receive advice, read about effective strategies, and learn ways to overcome burnout.
3. Create robust teacher summits or learning communities at your campus
Your school has probably implemented some type of professional learning community, or PLC. Almost all teachers and administrators have heard of these types of groups. They may meet weekly, monthly, or quarterly to discuss topics like effective teaching, student data, or school improvement.
As a school leader, you can support your teachers during PLC discussions with focus questions:
- What are some tangible ways teachers can take care of themselves this year?
- How will our teachers utilize instructional coaches and mentors?
- Which educator Facebook groups are the most helpful?
Bastrop ISD in Texas implemented a professional development plan using Istation that helped not only new teachers but all teachers. They used three targeted models depending on the level of experience teachers had. Newer teachers were trained one way, while more experienced teachers could dive deeper into the program. Read about these three professional development models here.
Another way educators can connect with their communities is through teacher summits. Whether in person or online, they can gain knowledge and support in their field. Teachers who feel supported will be able to support not only their students but their peers as well. These training opportunities will help the entire school thrive and succeed.
4. Develop continuous coaching cycles
Every school needs a system in place that will promote teachers’ growth and help them feel supported throughout the year. Once you find a model that works for your school, make sure you are implementing opportunities for teacher improvement continuously.
At the start of every year there is a chance to implement best practices more effectively than the year before. New and returning teachers will always be in need of refresher courses as well as introductions to new platforms. Use this restart to your advantage and continue to build a culture of teacher improvement starting this school year.
With a plan in place from the beginning, administration, teachers, and students will all be on the same page as the year progresses.
By implementing a culture of continuous teacher improvement at your school, you are encouraging growth and effective teaching. Support and guidance are important every year. With these four steps your school will be a place where everyone succeeds.
Istation offers customizable professional development opportunities that are designed for the unique training needs of each district and school.