The Importance of Empowering Teachers

  (Updated March 25, 2022)
Sandra Burns
Sandra Burns
Elementary school principal; M.Ed. in Educational Leadership
Portrait of happy teachers smiling in a classroom.

How have Teachers been Impacted by COVID?

Just like any other profession, teachers have been impacted drastically by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, teachers have experienced something that no one ever learned about in college.

Dealing with the pandemic and how to maneuver the steps of all the restrictions and guidelines is not something anyone could in a textbook or was able to prepare for. Over the last two years, uncertainty has left our teachers feeling anxious, unsure, and in situations that they have never experienced.

One of the most evident and observable impacts that the pandemic has left on our teachers is how they arrange their classrooms and prepare their lessons. A few years ago, students would heavily rely on group work to complete tasks and be paired up with a buddy in younger grades. Social distancing squashed all of that which put our students into spaced-out rows, turning back the clock in education.

This required teachers to rethink their lessons, take a different approach, and completely flip the teaching style that they have been doing for years. This change alone has left teachers uncertain, feeling as if they are lecturing instead of teaching, and has forced teachers into a period of uncomfortableness.

Teachers are often excited to work with community members and have them volunteer in their classrooms. This helps build relationships with the community and offers support for teachers and students in the classroom. The pandemic changed the idea of volunteers coming into schools, which significantly impacts teachers and students.

This can also cause a divider between the school and the community. Community members, including parents of our students, are upset and point fingers at educators as to the restrictions that must be followed. This is not our teachers doing, and it is a time that educators are trying extremely hard to leave politics out of their classrooms. Still, the community members have been upset and took frustrations out on educators.

Something that no one truly wants to think about, but unfortunately impacted teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, is the baggage and trauma that our students have faced during this time. Teachers have to wear many different hats on a good day in the classroom, and the pandemic has magnified this tremendously as educators see more signs of our students dealing with trauma and learning loss.

Teachers are trying to hold the pieces together and provide the best instruction for our students. Still, the pandemic continues to affect them, leaving a significant impact on them emotionally and pushing them out of their comfort zone. Routinely, social-emotional learning is taking over and replacing academic tasks due to the needs of our students.

How can Empowerment Impact Teacher Satisfaction?

A classroom often feels very much like a teacher’s second home. They have prepared themselves with the most up-to-date research, have set routines, and have defined the teaching style that they genuinely feel benefits their students.

Teachers have empowerment by the number of resources they have available and can provide the educational tools that every student needs. This allows them to think out of the box and be flexible within their classrooms.

While the pandemic has impacted the educational world tremendously, it is still as important as ever that our teachers experience empowerment. When teachers experience empowerment in the workplace, this allows for motivation to increase. When teachers are excited to come to work every day, strive to make a difference, and feel a sense of empowerment, this impacts our students. Ultimately, this is who it is all about, and the students are gaining when their teacher feels empowered.

What Happens When Teachers Don’t Feel Empowerment in the Workplace?

The COVID-19 pandemic may have turned everyone’s world upside down, but teachers are expected to still put a smile on their faces and give it their very best. After two long years of uncertainty, change, and challenges, educators are unsure of how to work through all of this.

Educators are leaving the profession due to burnout and political values carrying over into our public schools. Social media has played a considerable part including the news about teachers, schools, and local decisions made that parents are not happy with.

Teachers have been ridiculed for things that are out of their hands. Feeling beaten, defeated, humiliated, and not valued has left several walking away from the career and a teacher shortage across the United States.

Strategies to Support and Empower Your Teachers

More now than ever, educators feel alone and need to be supported through teacher appreciation. Administration must actively get involved to help support our teachers.

Administration has a lot on their plate, but a good leader will find the time to be sure to empower and support their teachers. This can be done in several ways, and it is so important that is happens.

Be Visible

Leaders must take the time to be a visible part of their school. This includes going into the classroom routinely and being an active listener as well. Letting your staff know you support them and are there for them will go a long way with teacher satisfaction.

Listen

Being a sounding board for our teachers is vital as not many people truly understand what educators are facing. As a school leader, listening to teachers and not being judgmental with their concerns will build a trusting relationship and be something that the teachers will not forget.

Pick-Me-Ups

Just as our students love little pick-me-ups and incentives, so do our teachers. A snack in the faculty room, a free dress-down day, the opportunity to leave a few minutes early after the students have left, or the acknowledgment of simply a pat on the back goes a very long way to aid in teacher wellness.

Be There

One of the most important strategies that a leader can do to support and empower teachers is to be right alongside them during this crazy time. Leaders should attend meetings with them to show support, and a leader should also do their very best to shield their teachers and staff from the negativity that is glaring at the educational field right now. Shielding teachers from this will allow for them to gain some of their empowerment back and impact them positively so they can give their very best every day.

All in This Together

Lastly, it is essential to remember that we are all in this together. Everyone, including teachers, staff, school boards, students, parents, and community members, wants what is best for our students.

To achieve this, we must work together despite what is happening in the world. The result will be empowered teachers positively impacting their students who need them more now than ever.

Interested in pursuing leadership and assisting in the empowerment of teachers? Check out our available administration and leadership graduate degrees and get started today!

*Updated March 2022
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