Working in K-12 has become increasingly difficult as teachers and staff juggle criticism, volatile school boards, divisive politics, multiple learning options, learning loss, safety measures, and misinformation.
Teachers and school staff members are overwhelmed, overworked, and exhausted — and more teachers are considering leaving the profession than ever before.
As districts grapple with turnover and staff shortages, there is one key thing administrators can do to support and retain teachers and staff: Listen to their feedback.
Why listening matters
You can’t create a thriving school environment — inside and out — without clear, open communication.
Listening is the foundation of making your school employees feel heard and valued while building transparency and trust. By listening and building a positive culture, you can engage and retain these critical staff members.
With Let’s Talk, you can give teachers and staff the opportunity to ask questions, share feedback, and voice concerns — even anonymously. You can also use the dashboard to identify trending topics to help you understand what concerns and questions are rising to the top.
You can take listening a step further by planning a listening tour. By hosting facilitated discussions with key internal groups — such as teachers, principals, transportation staff, and others — you can collect critical feedback and show your commitment to transparency.
If you already use Let’s Talk, you can review trends from your dashboard to see if there is a best time of year to start a listening tour, or if there are key stakeholders you need to check in with immediately.
Using feedback to drive change
You can’t report or improve what you don’t measure. And you can’t break the cycle of being reactive without impactful insights.
Use the quantitative and qualitative data collected in Let’s Talk to spot trends and needs, and turn that feedback into action. In turn, you’ll strengthen your connections and trust with teachers and staff.
In addition, listening gives you the opportunity to see where messages are being lost in translation. With so much at stake and so many involved, it’s possible to miss the mark when communicating about changes to school policies, issues, and changes. Listening gives you the opportunity to identify these miscommunications and correct misinformation before it spreads.
Dive deeper with an annual survey
Superior experiences start with listening, and you can extend your understanding of your staff’s experiences by conducting an annual employee engagement survey.
To help school districts better understand the needs of teachers and staff, we released our annual district and school employee engagement report late last year. The report provided critical insights on the perceptions and experiences of teachers, staff, and administrators regarding engagement, feedback and recognition, support, and more.
Among the participating employees from the school districts analyzed for this report:
- 66% of employees see professional growth and long-term career opportunities in their district
- 76% of employees say they feel their principal/direct supervisors’ actions are consistent with their words, while only half feel their district leaders’ actions are consistent with their words
- Only 42% of employees feel their district leaders clearly explain the reasons behind decisions on district-wide issues
- 56% of in-person employees feel appreciated for their work, while only 39% of remote employees feel appreciated for their work
- 79% of employees strongly agreed or agreed they were provided online or other remote professional development opportunities and/or training to meet the current requirements and expectations of their jobs.
- 73% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that their principal/direct supervisor checks in on them on a regular basis
There are many ways listening can help you succeed as a district leader. As you listen to your community — formally or informally — be sure to focus on two-way dialogues and taking action to build trust capital. That will be critical in engaging and retaining teachers and staff in the months ahead.