When I was a new teacher, a day of learning started with greeting each student with a handshake, high five, or hug every morning. It meant seeing each student’s face every day and making sure they were connecting with what I was teaching.
But that has changed. With hybrid and flexible teaching models, some days all teachers see are black Zoom squares. It’s like every teacher has been plunged back into their first day trying to manage a classroom, teach a new curriculum, and make sure each student feels supported — all with the challenge of collective, worldwide trauma, and sometimes even without a common bond of physical space.
According to a RAND study in 2021, nearly 25 percent of current teachers said job-related stress leads them to think often about quitting.
Teachers are experiencing record burnout. Being a teacher has always been hard, but at a distance, with little resources, when you can’t see your students, or hug them, or know if they’re okay, that’s just scary, and tough, and isolating.
We need to give our teachers personalized support to make sure they can succeed in the daunting task of guiding their students through what’s next, whatever next may be. Because as much as education is a calling, it’s also deep, personal work — work that requires an investment of time and resources to help teachers, district leaders, and paraprofessionals provide the scaffolding for students to achieve their potential.
At BetterLesson, we develop growth opportunities for educators that go beyond a single day of professional development. We started in 2008 as an online platform with a catalog of thousands of research-based instructional strategies built by master teachers to support fellow educators.
Over the years, we’ve expanded on those strategies with professional development pathways that include topics ranging from curriculum adoption, to social-emotional learning and trauma-informed instruction. We then follow up our workshops with one-to-one, executive-style coaching that helps teachers expand upon understanding to gain true ownership of best practices. And it’s all online, so teachers can be matched with a coach who fits their goals no matter where they are or what their schedule looks like.
Teachers do what they do because they love kids and believe in them. With all the challenges of the past two years, it’s so easy for that love to not be enough. When you feel like you aren’t able to reach your students, when you feel like you are failing, it can be so hard for even the most seasoned educator to keep going.
Coaching gives each teacher the chance to achieve small but meaningful victories. By trying something new and measuring how it worked in a regular cycle with a coach, teachers learn new ideas and implement them with one-on-one support. Having a coach in their corner helps teachers remember that they’re not in it alone, that there are new approaches to try, and that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed.
Tools to succeed
Any time a teacher has the resources and coaching to examine their practice critically, they’re bound to find opportunities to create a more rigorous and inclusive classroom for their students.
And, of course, teachers aren’t the only ones who need support. The past few years have been hard on district leaders and principals struggling to keep their schools running in the midst of a pandemic, and still find the resources to support teachers in the classroom. BetterLesson offers tools for school and district leaders for everything from adopting new curriculum to peer collaboration.
One thing I’m especially proud of at BetterLesson is how we make sure teachers and district leaders are partners in this process. We take the time to really listen to the challenges they’re experiencing and the root causes so we can design solutions that work. And now we’re introducing self-directed learning that will empower teachers with the opportunity to explore concepts that inspire them — everything from trauma-informed practices, to flexible instructional models and curriculum tools.
Through our library of instructional strategies and lesson plans, workshops, coaching, and self-directed learning courses, we’re here to ensure every teacher can feel confident in developing the next generation of resourceful, compassionate, and resilient learners. And we can do that by meeting educators where they are with the tools they need to support each student.
Visit betterlesson.com to learn about how you can support teachers in confidently navigating what’s next.