Let's Get Our Educators Out of the Trenches!

Jul 30, 2021

It’s time for a paradigm shift. Are we going to just let the years of burnout smoldering deep within our teachers and school administrators continue to grow into full fledged burnout flames?  Or, are school districts going to commit to supporting educator well-being? I’ve been thinking about this topic for years. Having led several different buildings and coached teachers and colleagues through many challenges and of course, having lived through burnout myself, I know how important happy and healthy educators are to a high performing school. Burnout was a problem before covid and after all educators have been through in the past year and a half, another back to school icebreaker just isn’t going to cut it to re-energize and re-engage our educators.

What is needed is a program that prioritizes, enriches and elevates the lives of one of our society's most important assets, educators! We need to change the mindset that teachers, principals, counselors and support staff have a never ending well of energy that doesn’t need replenished. The mechanism that keeps our educational system top of the world are our compassionate, caring educators. But who has been compassionately caring about them and supporting them with the skills and tools they need to navigate the ever changing educational landscape? You can’t keep adding more programs and disjointed responsibilities without giving educators strategies to more effectively manage their personal and professional lives.  

I remember when the now common phrase of teachers being ‘in the trenches' started being used and I said to myself, ‘this is not good for education’. Do you know what happens in the battlefield trenches? As a former history teacher, I do. It’s not pleasant. We need a paradigm shift to get our most prized educators out of the trenches and back up on the pedestal as a pillar of community, a pillar of respect, and a highly educated purveyor of possibility tasked with leading our young people through their educational journey. To support the change in mindset, we must properly equip educators at all levels with the skills, strategies, action plans and ongoing coaching support to escape the trenches and return to their rightful position on the inspired educator pedestal. Who’s with me on this? We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand. We are at a turning point and we need to act now. Social and emotional support and learning isn’t just needed for our students. Educators and school leaders need it now more than ever.  

We all know the stats are getting worse each year. Educator burnout has been a problem as long as I have been in education (over 20 years) and I’ve watched it escalate. A March 2020 survey found that the five most-mentioned feelings among all teachers were: anxious, fearful, worried, overwhelmed and sad. Anxiety, by far, was the most frequently mentioned emotion. I hear the same thing from nearly 100% of the educators I work with.

I know that the increasing difficulty of finding teachers to fill positions all across the country correlates to our teachers being in the ‘trenches’ and not being provided proper support. What are we going to do about that? Think about it for a minute and hope it goes away? The reason that it is increasingly difficult to find teachers to fill positions all across the country is because we have painted the job of being a teacher as being in the trenches which is not a desirable workplace for most recent graduates. Not providing the necessary support and resources to manage and process the stress that goes along with being a teacher, counselor, dean, assistant principal, principal, and yes even superintendent is a systemic issue. Why do you think turnover for school leaders is so high? Why do over 40% of teachers leave the field within the first 4 years?  

The phrase of teachers being in the trenches has a far reaching impact. The “revolving door” of teachers is not just inconvenient for schools - teacher turnover harms student achievement, discourages educators and is expensive for districts - ranging from $10,000-$25,000 per teacher depending on the qualifiers you use to measure cost. 

What if I told you there was a solution to these problems? Would you be interested in a program for teachers, counselors, and school leaders that achieves the following metrics? Now, keep in mind school leaders that are reading this: right now everyone is looking to you to solve this problem. This program takes the pressure off of you to solve the problem because you too deserve to participate in a powerful and meaningful program that:

  1. Decreases educator (teacher, counselor, & administrator) turnover 
  2. Improves teacher & administrator wellbeing
  3. Increases teacher, counselor & administrator life satisfaction
  4. Improves personal and professional efficiency and effectiveness 
  5. Teaches educators how to craft a professional and personal action and wellness plan based on the 7 Powerful Practices Model designed by a former high school, middle school and elementary principal.

Think about this for a minute. Where do you place value?

What is the cost of unhappy teachers, teacher turnover or stressed and ineffective educators? 

What is the value of happier and healthier teachers, decreased educator turnover and increased educator effectiveness? 

What price do you put on happier educators, students, parents and communities? Do the math.

  • What do you save through a decrease in spending for recruiting as a result of teacher turnover? 
  • How much money is saved when school leaders have more time to grow the team and focus on strategic efforts rather than continually replacing teachers?
  • How would your district benefit from having less employees that are burnt out?
  • How would your district use money saved on decreased spending on subs for teachers and other educators that are maxed out or have developed illness from stress?
  • How much more likely is your district to pass funding measures as a result of more effective, happier, and healthier teachers? What amount of money does that generate?
  • How much more time would you and your educators be able to spend on instructional leadership versus reactive measures? 

Sounds exciting? Sound like something you wish you could do? You can! 

Here's what you should do: Bring on an innovative benefit like a bundled program offering Joyful Educator Lab and Edu-Thrive: The Educator Wellness Lab led by Lisa Imel, M.Ed., the Founder and Chief Educational Consultant of EDSolutions group and her team. This teacher, counselor and principal centric programming appeals to new hires as a recruiting tool and appeals to your returning and seasoned educators as an added benefit and ongoing support mechanism. Imagine creating a 7 Powerful Practice Action Plan based on the program modules and competencies: 

  1. Power of Passion 
  2. Power of Wellness 
  3. Power of Reflection 
  4. Power of Priorities 
  5. Power of Time Management 
  6. Power of Delegation 
  7. Power of the Positivity Zone 

Joyful Educator Lab has tremendous reviews and has been changing educator lives throughout covid. After attending the Joyful Educator Lab and creating a 7 Powerful Practices Action Plan educators feel: happier, inspired, valued, supported, effective and respected. This meaningful program should be used in the following settings:

  • District new staff onboarding 
  • Seasoned staff professional development
  • Administrators and counselors professional development
  • Leadership team retreats
  • Full staff professional development day to set the tone that educators matter and are being provided the proper support
  • Professional Development for Education Nonprofits

Check out Joyful Educator Lab to learn a bit more or better yet, schedule a Vision Call with me and I will walk you through it in detail, discuss customization options for your district, and reserve your date. 

Join us as we aim to re-prioritize the educator experience in our educational system! Let’s partner together so we can get our educators back up on the pedestal where they belong instead of "down in the trenches''! Trenches are no place for highly educated, compassionate, caring educators or our future generations to be educated. Uplift your educators through the Joyful Educator Lab & Edu-Thrive: The Educator Wellness Lab. Educator wellbeing cannot wait. The time is now!


About the Author Lisa Imel, M.Ed.

Lisa Imel, M.Ed. is the Founder and Chief Educational Consultant of the EDSolutions Group where she serves as a school strategy consultant, digital course creator, leadership coach, and more! Lisa specializes in Human Potential, Workforce & Economic Development, and k-16 Education Strategy. Through her work with school districts, colleges and secondary and post-secondary leadership partners she develops business community partnerships, ideates, creates and implements systems and structures so that you can lead a more productive, meaningful, healthier, happier, work & personal life. Our work will  help you have a greater impact and influence more of your students to achieve brighter futures!  As a life-long educator, high-school, middle-school, and elementary administrator, teacher and licensed superintendent, she gets it. Reach out at [email protected]

Thank you for reading EdSolutionsChat (this blog) where school leaders come for inspiration! 

Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” -Marian Wright Edelman


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