Paul Bear Bryant says, when you make a mistake there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it. Studies show that the teacher turnover (or dropout) rate has increased to 20% a year. That means if 100 teachers begin the school year, approximately 20 will decide to quit the profession. What causes this high turnover? I would suggest it is linked to common mistakes and a lack of responsive leadership that prevent the educator from bouncing back. Let’s exam four avoidable teacher mistakes that are manageable with or without strong school leadership.
1. Combat Poor Organizational Practices
Most educators will agree that no one mentioned paperwork being a huge part of teaching, but it is. With paperwork comes deadlines and when you fall behind on one deadline, others begin to pile up and soon you are overwhelmed and drowning in a sea of unmet deadlines. A simple solution to getting organized, buy a planner. A planner will help you document requirements and stay informed of upcoming deadlines. Some districts even have donors who provide planners at the beginning of each school year and if you are tech savvy, you can utilize an electronic planner or your personal cell phone calendar. There are several free organizing apps you can download on your smart phone.
2. Manage Overwork by Finding Balance
Year after year, eager educators come in early mornings and leave late at night. Planning and preparing to change the world one student at a time. Sometimes they lose sight of the great accomplishments their students have made, and they don’t know whose life has been impacted or changed - feelings of being overworked and despair set in. “I have put in all this time, and I can’t see a change in them”, and sometimes, you won’t. A word of advice, journal the bright spots throughout your year. Remember, change also takes place overtime and in some cases, you can only see the fruits of your labor when a student decides to come back and say, “Thank you!” However, the statics show that most educators give up on the profession before that happens. How can you prevent overwork? Find your balance. Have an outlet. Set a start time and end time and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to schedule personal time to do the things you love to do. Take care of yourself and you’ll enjoy what you do so much more. You are worth it!
3. Quit Trying to Fly Solo – Seek Collaboration
New educators struggle with learning systems. They are often confused and scared of the reaction of colleagues when they ask questions, so most remain quiet. Healthy professional collaboration is rooted in working with someone, bouncing ideas, receiving and giving feedback all for the development of your craft to improve outcomes for all students. Collaboration can be difficult, but it is necessary. We are often stuck with using Google to figure things out, when some of the best resources are the people who have experienced and survived what we are experiencing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to offer solutions, to receive and give feedback. Being an educator is a journey! Take it one awesome day at a time.
4. Teaching the content and not the students
The most common mistake by educators is teaching the content. Don’t get me wrong the content is important, but the students are most important. How can you teach someone you don’t know? How does the student learn? What are your students’ likes and interests? Can you determine when your student is having a bad day? Do you know what brings a smile to their face? Educators must teach the whole child. The only way the whole child can be taught is by building an authentic relationship with them. Relationships drive people to reach their maximum potential. Be deliberate and intentional about teaching the whole child.
These are my thoughts. Let me hear from you! What mistakes have you made and how were you able to keep from repeating them? Let’s stop educator dropout. I can be reached at Alethea@thrivingleaders.co