We’re back, and we’ve got an incredible, honest episode unpacking teacher support featuring two thought-provoking lower school guests: Michelle Portera (first grade teacher) and Shea Egger (lower school head). Spoiler alert, I almost named this episode with various combinations of the following nouns: authenticity, vulnerability, trust and connection.
Check out snippets from host Rachel Scott’s intro below and I dare you to not be super intrigued:
When the idea for this season first came up, my initial reaction was ummmm… this could be REALLY great or could go REALLY wrong, but the topic was so real, vulnerable, and needs to happen. . . . I see articles, education comedians, memes, social media posts, and news stories about teacher burn-out, leaving the profession, and the very-real teacher shortage. There are desperate cries for support from teachers across the nation. I feel that this “education crisis” isn’t unique to certain schools, whether they are public, private, or independent. The Great Divide can happen anywhere. So what does the support that teachers and educators, both, really mean? My husband, the goof that he is, tells me he’ll support me like an underwire. Thanks dear, but I have that kind of support covered. But what kind of support do we need, and how do we narrow down and put into words and actionable things that can be done to decrease the divide, and at an absolute minimum, build a bridge? We don’t plan to solve the problems of education today, but talking about it and being able to view things from both perspectives is where it all begins. In today’s episode: Teacher Support: What does that mean? What actionable things can we do to collectively reverse the burnout?
See what I mean? Take a listen. The 37 minute are genuine, power-packed, and will fly by.
2:35-3:26: Listen to Rachel and Michelle gush about Shea’s supportive, positive, caring leadership style . . . and why sharing vulnerabilities as administrators is KEY in fostering conversations, connections, and growth.
5:18-8:20: Our panel explores why so many teachers are in survival mode . . . and the implications of anxiety, stress, and “functioning below the line.”
8:50-13:00: Teachers and admin unpack what has led to the burnout both pre and post-pandemic: teachers putting pressure on themselves, scarcity of time, a sense of being piled on, and society’s “ hurry sickness.” (See Shea’s book recommendation here: Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer.)
13:03-14:43: Rachel goes deeper into “time” as a finite resource . .. and provides some ideas for how to streamline in order to work smarter and not harder.
14:45-16:28: Shea explores some concrete strategies administrators should employ to be mindful about time for faculty: making sure any change is purposeful and done with teacher feedback and efficiently using meetings so that admin is making the best use of the time they are taking from faculty.
16:30- 21:30 : What the dreaded “you must submit your lesson plans ahead of time” move can communicate about trust and transparency between faculty and administrators.
22:25-24:23: Hear how one of Michelle’s past admin took on a strengths-oriented approach that made a real difference.
24:23-25:42: Why communication is the key to building trust and relationships . . .both giving feedback and receiving it; and hear about one of Rachel’s WORST admin wielding “lack of communication” as a “power tool.”
25:43-32:12: Why it’s worth the time for us all (but I’m especially looking at you, admin) to make connections, be in communion/fellowship with faculty, be vulnerable and authentic, own the mistakes you make, and share your values as a leader. Also the clear reminder: “we all have to play in order to be healthy.”
32:15-34:20: Self care as a practice that you do, but the equal necessity of systems that support us (e.g. SAPA dinner for faculty families to take home).
34:22-35:00: What parents can do to aid in teacher support on their end: ask them what they need!
35:00-37:35: Back to our main themes: vulnerability, authenticity, trust, and connection. And why there’s “such peace” in bringing your whole self to work. . . which can increase the grace we have for others as well.
*Final note from Shea Egger: If the ideas in this episode interested you, I recommend you check out Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. Themes that emerged in the episode are straight out of this wonderful resource, including an exercise to help identify personal and team values. This is not just a book for school administrators! Brene Brown defines leaders as “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” That’s our faculty, staff, and parents, too!