Strong onboarding impacts teacher efficacy and wellness which is known to impact teacher retention. A study by Richard Ingersoll, found that when administrators offer high-quality onboarding programs and district orientation, the retention rate of new teachers was over 93%. School closings due to COVID-19 have made it challenging for districts and schools to implement the traditional start of the school year professional development and new staff training. Check out Upbeat’s tips on building a strong workplace culture even in a remote setting.
Provide Training and Tools
- Professional Development: Teachers need support and development on remote learning tools, and likely one session is not enough. Set clear goals for each professional development session on remote learning tools. Record the sessions and allow time for teachers to practice the skill and ask questions. Find some great PD support here.
- Central Resource Hub: Create an electronic “home” for all resources for remote learning. This hub should include recordings of training webinars, how-to guides, curriculum, etc., so that it is easy for teachers to locate all information.
- Remote Learning Resources: There are an abundance of tools available for remote learning. While it is great to have options, it can be overwhelming. Do the grunt work to evaluate the options for your school or district and then share a list of recommended resources. Your teachers will appreciate having more time to focus on instructional activities rather than evaluating materials.
- Clear Expectations: Setting clear expectations is even more important when starting the year remotely. Be transparent about schedule requirements, dress code, etc., as well as academic requirements for online lessons. Share the plan for observations and coaching in the remote setting if that is occurring within your district. Create an expectations document with all of this information so that teachers can reference this frequently.
- Efficient Pre-work: In remote meetings, it can be challenging to get a pulse check on each teacher. Provide pre-work for PD sessions so that your time can be used efficiently and allow for basic troubleshooting issues to be resolved in advance.
Encourage Collaboration and Team Building
- Time for Collaboration: Continue to have PLCs, grade level meetings, and other opportunities for employees to brainstorm and solve problems. This collaborative time will be more important than ever this year to tackle challenges that arise with remote learning and help teachers stay connected.
- Communication: Create a place for teachers to reach out to post or ask each other questions publicly.This could be an online forum or weekly video meeting. Many teachers will be struggling with the same issues as the school year begins, so create an opportunity for staff to share best practices.
- Team Building: Don’t skip team building activities despite starting out remotely. It is important that your teams get to know each other even if you are not meeting in person. Check out some ideas for remote team building here.
Offer Support and Appreciation
- Appreciation: Just as you would at the start of a school year, ensure that you are showering your teachers with gratitude. Find ideas for remotely appreciating teachers here.
- Highlight Successful Staff: Leverage your high performing staff. Is there a teacher that has been successful in communicating with parents during remote learning? Another who has had strong student engagement? Utilize these staff members and have them share their strategies with staff in meetings and written communication.
- Office Hours: Teachers aren’t able to wander into your office or see you around the building. Create structured times every few days that teachers can “drop-in” to a video meeting or schedule a time with you.
- Encourage Self-Care and Wellness: Check in with teachers regularly. If teachers seem overwhelmed, reassure support and show empathy for what they are experiencing. Offer to help take things off their plate or adjust priorities. There are a lot of great resources available that discuss how to support teachers and enhance their well-being.