Teachers dealt with a lot on their plates this school year due to increasing responsibilities from staff shortages. More teachers are experiencing burnout than ever and there has been major turnover in education. It is crucial to find ways to support teachers with their mental health this summer so they can adequately prepare for the school year ahead.
In a poll conducted by the National Education Association in February, 90% of educators polled stated “feeling burned out is a serious problem.” 67% of those educators said that it is a “very serious” problem.
These alarming statistics show just how important it is to support struggling teachers, even over this summer when they are outside of the classroom. The summer can provide an opportunity for teachers to rejuvenate and restore their mental health. Here are five ways that school administrators can best support teachers over the summer break:
- Show teachers where to access local mental health resources
- Recognize teachers who went above and beyond
- Provide vouchers for self-care activities
- Give teachers opportunities to be heard
- Help maintain teachers' classrooms over the summer
By helping teachers in at least one of these areas, administrators can give meaningful support to teachers that can help improve workplace morale and retention in your school and school district.
Here is how to best support teachers before they return to the classroom in the fall.
1. Show Teachers Where to Access Mental Health Resources
Provide a worksheet that shows where to find local and online mental health resources. You could do this through email or at your final staff meeting of the school year. Your list could include national hotlines centered around mental health and contact information for your district’s department of Mental Health Services and local counselors.
Here is a PDF you can share with your teachers with hotlines and other community mental health resources.
SAMHSA is a great hotline for most mental health needs. They speak English and Spanish and provide substance abuse and mental health support. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357). In addition to giving these pertinent resources, you can also provide a mental health checklist for teachers to check in on their wellbeing. Give teachers an opportunity to create specific and measurable goals to improve their mental health over the summer.
The Ultimate Employee Mental Health Kit is a great resource to share with teachers. It has some great ideas to boost personal wellbeing. Here are some quick ideas:
- Write down your thoughts and feelings
- Go to bed early or take a nap
- Drink an entire glass of water
- Set a therapy appointment
- Eat something healthy
- Write down things you need to do and prioritize them
- Try the TIPP method
- Talk to someone about your anxieties
- Disconnect from social media
You may also want to provide an anonymous survey to see how teachers feel they could be best supported. Give them questions that rate how they are feeling, and ask them how you can best support them.
2. Recognize Teachers Who Went Above and Beyond
In teaching, it’s all about the small moments, which can easily go without recognition. Teacher recognition is an excellent way to validate their worth as an employee and motivate them to flourish.
Take the time on a weekly basis during the summer to reflect on the successes of the previous school year. You can celebrate a teacher’s test scores or recount a time when they uplifted a student. Find ways to sincerely compliment your employees.
If you want to bring the recognition to another level, you could give a small prize on a weekly or monthly basis to an employee that best exemplifies your school’s ideologies or excellence.
3. Provide Vouchers for Self-Care Activities
An easy way to show gratitude towards teachers is to give them vouchers or coupons for various self-care activities. Some great ideas would include vouchers for massage therapy, art lessons, gym memberships, and other self-care activities.
School administrators and districts could even use this opportunity to create a sense of community within the schools by providing a group outing to a theme park or renting out a yoga studio for a morning session.
By spending time together in an engaging activity, teachers can find a sense of belonging at the school which would promote collaboration in the schools. Collaboration and community are two important factors of teacher satisfaction.
4. Give Teachers Opportunities to Be Heard
At times, teachers can feel voiceless and hopeless about what is happening within their school. A way to mitigate this is to give teachers an opportunity to have a platform on issues that matter to them over the summer.
A practical solution would be to create committees to enact positive change on campus and allow teachers to join in on the committees. This could be on issues like class size, discipline, attendance, and many other educational hot topics.
Allow teachers the chance to voice their feelings and thoughts on school policy and how administration can best support them before the next school year begins. Consider having these committee meetings in person or on a virtual platform.
5. Help Maintain Teachers’ Classrooms Over the Summer
A big hurdle for teachers at the end of the school year is preparing their rooms for the summer and, ultimately, the next school year. Supporting teachers’ classroom needs would be helpful for teachers to start the next school year on a positive note.
A positive work environment is so vital for teacher retention and wellbeing. The following list includes practical ways to promote a positive environment over the summer:
- Give teachers organization and storage bins to use
- Supply cleaning supplies at no cost to the teachers
- Provide paint or paint rooms in calming colors that would be satisfying for teachers and students
- Donate classroom supplies (i.e., books, paper, etc.)
- Create a shared document of classroom maintenance needs that can be addressed over the summer
We hope these tips are helpful to you and your school administrative team as you support teachers this summer!
For more ways to help support struggling teachers’ mental health, read our article Reducing Teacher Stress in the Classroom. The article suggests ways for school administrators and school districts to help relieve teachers’ stress levels during the school year.
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