Generally speaking, student engagement is the main focus for most schools and districts. We make dedicated plans for helping students feel connected to school so they can grow and thrive. Parent engagement is also a key focus, as it is linked with students’ better behavior and school performance. But, we often overlook the importance of educator engagement in schools. When we don’t focus on educator engagement, we miss opportunities to pre-emptively solve a host of problems and increase positive student outcomes.
According to a 2015 Gallup survey of 6,711 full-time teachers in the US, “57 percent of teachers say that they are ‘not engaged’ at work, with an additional 13 percent saying that they are ‘actively disengaged.’” It is important to note that teacher engagement and student engagement go hand in hand – when teacher engagement is high, it impacts students positively.
For many educators, the stress of the past two years has compounded frustrations they may have already been feeling about their job demands before the pandemic. Numerous polls have shown that educators are feeling more stressed and burned out than ever before.
MTSS for Adults
Now more than ever, we need to intentionally offer space and structures that support, engage, and empower all employees – if we don’t, both staff and students will continue to suffer. Providing staff with training sessions focused on self-care and employee well-being is essential, but it isn’t enough. We must be intentional about building systems of care within our organizations. We need to treat the problem, not just the symptoms.
When students struggle, we utilize a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) to help raise achievement and support behavior. Similarly, we need to implement a staff-focused MTSS model to strengthen educator engagement, grow adult SEL competencies, and reduce burnout.
MTSS for adults might look something like this:
Provide all staff with access to activities and resources that strengthen their social-emotional resilience and learning. Offer opportunities for reflection on their current level of engagement as well as on personal and professional growth. Intentionally incorporate activities that allow staff to develop authentic connections with one another and create an environment of belonging among the adults on campus. Partner with consultants and experts to provide professional development centered on employee well-being, SEL competencies, and self-care for all staff members.
For those staff members who may need a little more SEL support, offer activities like talking circles and support groups to facilitate deeper connections with their peers and opportunities to share feelings and frustrations. Pair them with an on-site mentor who can help them troubleshoot problems and set goals for growth. Encourage them to participate in self-care by utilizing a month-long self-care challenge.
A small number of staff members may need a more individualized and focused approach to SEL. Help connect them with mental health professionals from the district’s approved insurance provider. Provide regular check-ins and coaching by an appropriate staff member to grow and strengthen their SEL competencies. Create an individualized plan to assist them in meeting their SEL goals.
By creating a framework to support, engage, and empower staff, we strengthen employee well-being and create an environment where students and staff can thrive.
Moeny, J. (2015, January 20). Gallup: Majority of teachers ‘not engaged’ with their jobs. Education Week. Retrieved April 10, 2022, from Education Week