Back-to school time can be one of the most exciting, yet stressful, times for an educator. Teachers work frantically to prepare their rooms for the first day of school and begin to forecast their curriculum. How administrators can support teachers is by having an understanding for their sense of urgency, by sharing important information, and by being available as a sounding board for anxious teachers.
Understand the Sense of Urgency
Administrators have been trained to see the big picture and often forget that teachers are focused on one small component: Their own classroom. For this reason, back-to-school time can be stressful as teachers try to prepare their plans, activities, and class schedule. When an administrator realizes that each teacher is anxiously awaiting the master schedule, the bus duty schedule, and when assistants will be available, they can alleviate this stress. Although you may not realize it, teachers desperately want to have as much ready before school starts, so they can have nice handouts ready for parents, times for scheduled classes, and student planners ready for the first day of instruction. When issues are left up in the air, or changed prior to the first day, teachers may get frustrated.
Another way that administrators can be aware of this sense of urgency is by realizing that at the start of a school year, teachers are thinking about one thing: Setting up their classroom. Long staff meetings and all-day professional development can be a lost cause when teachers’ minds drift to other things. In this sense, it is crucial for administrators to understand this and provide teachers with the opportunity to work within their classroom and collaborate with their own team rather than attend meetings for the sake of meetings.
Share Important Information
Besides daily scheduling information, administrators have privilege to a lot of information teachers would love to access. Even though it is the start of a new year, teachers would love to know assessment windows in advance. Knowing when benchmark and state assessments will be given helps a teacher with pacing and planning. At back-to-school time, administrators may also have insight about new school board policies and new legislation that will benefit teachers. Short emailed newsletters can help teachers stay informed and provide written documentation which teachers can re-read as needed.
Be a Sounding Board
Teachers may be receptive to all types of new information at the start of school; but sometimes they just want someone to hear their own ideas and plans. Some teachers may want advice on new standard implementation; while others may just need to vent about issues with setting up their classroom or new technology. No matter why they come to talk, they just need someone to listen. While this does take up a portion of the day, being that sounding board establishes a caring culture.
The roller coaster of emotions teachers feel at the start of the year can be minimized by the school leader. Knowing how administrators can support teachers effectively sets the tone and expectations for the school by understanding what teachers need.