2. Steer clear of information overload: Less is more. Working toward our shared goal of enhancing student achievement often requires the clarity of being detail oriented, but that becomes extremely difficult to accomplish while also avoiding the trap of information overload.
Implementing guiding questions to act as a common playbook can unify discussions with staff members. Presenting teachers with manageable action items can ameliorate worry and answer “What am I doing?” in relation to the teacher role and responsibilities. A constant referencing of shared goals upholds a keen focus on “Why am I doing it?” and facilitating continuous professional development with helpful guidelines allows teachers to answer, “How do I do it?” Training staff to be able to do what you are asking of them keeps the team on the same page.
Sticking to essential facts and incorporating tools such as rubrics, scripts, and professional articles calibrates expectations, quells confusion, and provides a sense of solid footing for staff to rely on if additional questions arise. It is important to be a reliable source of information to help restore routine while dispelling nervous assumptions.
3. Stay positive. Stay human: Express gratitude and preach teamwork. Teachers feed off of administrator energy, and staying positive curbs the temptation of a negative headspace generated from frustration and feeling overwhelmed. The more comfortable we feel, the more willing and inclined we are to try our best.
Virtually congregating for “staff soirées” every Friday to enjoy leisure time sparks team mentality, partnership, and mutual understanding. Plus, being genuine with your encouragement to practice self-care displays the authenticity needed for a safe, collaborative environment.
Another worthwhile undertaking is to send handwritten notes of appreciation to teachers. This type of effort validation garners a healthy dose of positivity that boosts staff morale and shows a good-faith gesture of humility. Resistance often emanates from fear, and a lack of task completion may be due to a need for support rather than sheer defiance. Education is predicated on relationships, and emphasizing emotional quotient over intellectual quotient more effectively achieves target goals.
Remember to combat fears and lighten the mood with some humor by letting teachers know that you share their struggles. Creating a “Humble Brags” email chain where teachers highlight points of pride and seek out peer assistance allows a meeting of the minds to occur in a lighthearted way. Engaging in positive feedback and healthy dialogue energizes all to contribute and is a great opportunity for the appraisal of collective team efforts.
George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place,” and maintaining clear lines of communication amid times of high emotional tension is no easy task. Like a valuable antique, communication is fragile yet abundantly important. Putting into practice these ideas can help administrators support teachers who feel overwhelmed by restoring a sense of normality and building community to prevent wires from getting crossed.