Last month, we looked at the number of teachers who are considering leaving the profession and the reasons for the teacher shortage that is impacting parts of the United States. But it is futile to present a challenge without considering solutions so now let’s explore potential remedies to this situation – specifically how companies that work with schools, like yours, can help. Here are five ideas for ways you can let teachers know they are supported and respected.
- Treat teaching as a profession and teachers as professionals.
Sounds simple, but teachers report it doesn’t always happen. As you develop classroom materials for teachers, think carefully about the kind of language that you use in instructions, tips, or other directions. Be sure that your language acknowledges that you recognize teachers are professionals and that the materials you provide to them are designed to help them achieve their goals. Consider your marketing materials as well. Don’t talk down to teachers and be sure the graphics and artwork are appropriate for professional adults – even if they are teaching children.
- Design your professional learning offerings to support career development while strengthening teachers’ sense of purpose and helping them be more effective.
In addition, be sure the delivery methods for professional development take into consideration the increasing demands on their time. Maybe an asynchronous online course fits more easily into their busy schedules than a face-to-face or live offering?
- Show teachers how much you value them every day.
Don’t wait for Teacher Appreciation Week every May. Demonstrate the many ways you value teachers throughout the year and weave that that messaging into everything you do from marketing materials to the development of products and programs. Think of the boost an overwhelmed classroom teacher might get from the ongoing message we appreciate you – not just one week out of the year but all year long.
- Provide teachers with well-developed, free classroom materials and other resources that help them do their jobs.
Teachers aren’t just strapped for time; they are also strapped for money. Some spend a significant amount of their own money on things like resources for their classrooms and professional development. Consider developing an ongoing program of free downloadable resources that connect to your programs or products to expand the tools they have to support instruction. In addition, free webinars and other online professional development activities can help teachers stay abreast of new trends and issues in education without having to invest in registration fees or costly travel.
- Listen to what teachers say, know, and need.
There are numerous chances to do this. You can listen to teachers at conferences and trades shows, while on sales calls, or in media articles about the profession. If you have the opportunity to talk to teachers face-to-face, ask them questions and listen to what they tell you. In addition to the important result of making them feel valued and listened to, you will likely get information that will inform your product development and marketing.
The U.S. teacher shortage is a complex issue, but if we all work to elevate the profession and make teachers’ feel respected and valued, together, we might be able to turn the tide. Ready to demonstrate to teachers how your organization respects and values the profession? MDR is here to help! Reach out to us to learn more.