The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence reported a study in April of 2020 with the results of a teacher survey during the COVID-19 crisis. The survey asked teachers to report the three most frequent emotions they felt each day. The top five, with the first by far the most common, were:
The study reveals the emotional climate of the teaching profession during the first part of 2020. The emotional climate is considered the feelings and emotions a learning space evokes, including the physical areas and personal interactions between all individuals.
Your afterschool staff likely experienced the same emotional climate during the early parts of the pandemic, and they still require your support as the world continues to work its way back to a new normal.
You can support them in a variety of ways. Here are some tips to get you started.
Be Wide Open When Communicating
Communication is a two-way street. The conversation goes both ways. Give teachers and staff the chance to provide input and be part of the decision-making process as often as possible. Not only does this build team spirit, but it also allows you to find solutions that best support teachers without adding more pressure and stress.
- Consult with staff when you develop plans, policies, and health and safety measures.
- Be open and transparent about everything to foster a continued sense of community.
- Answer questions and address concerns. The lack of information and control encourages anxiety.
- Provide coaching and feedback instead of traditional observation and evaluation protocols.
- Establish communication norms. Let teachers and staff know it's OK to only be available during regular operating hours to reduce parents' email, texts, and calls.
Many teachers and staff say they need more realistic expectations, including boundaries around work hours.
Provide Technology Training and Support
The pandemic threw everyone into a new ocean of technology with little time to train. Teachers need help with the latest tools as well as using familiar technology in new ways. They are trying to cope with administering and teaching in hybrid or remote classrooms. Afterschool programs can play a role if the teachers and staff have the proper training and technical support to create a seamless transfer between the school day and afterschool.
When classes and programs cannot meet as usual, everyone needs to know which standards are the most important to meet. It's unrealistic to expect a regular curriculum during remote learning.
Align formative tasks and checks for understanding to your prioritized standards so teachers can effectively monitor learning. Your afterschool program teachers, staff, and administrators have the same issues as daily classroom teachers. Communicate and follow the school’s recommendation as closely as possible to make a seamless learning environment.
Things are not normal, nor have they been for almost two years. However, too much change is overwhelming. Find ways to keep things as normal as possible to build reassurance and stabilize daily operations.
Ask yourself, "What can stay the same under the current circumstances?"
- Provide the same meetings at the same time, virtually.
- Don't skip training.
- Keep a form of morning announcements.
- Stay connected through social media.
Stay organized and get everyone into a reliable routine while understanding flexibility is still critical.
Your staff may appreciate a "new" normal FAQ they can access anytime. Compile those questions and answers into an email that becomes a weekly tradition. Ask the staff to share their ideas and inspiration via a regular newsletter.
Understand the Value of Time
Teachers and staff require time to plan, create videos, grade schoolwork, conference with remote students, and update the learning management system. Don’t take that time away during remote or hybrid learning.
Eliminate as many meetings as possible. If you can't eliminate all of them, shorten the ones you must have.
Establish a grace period for grading and completing projects. Remember that some subjects require more time than others to grade. The hybrid or remote environment is still a strange place to work, and many teachers are still struggling.
Teachers and staff are looking for time to make remote learning more fun and engaging.
Let the staff know you understand the necessity of self-care. Their mental and emotional health is a priority to you.
Share tips with staff.
- Stay connected with family, friends, and coworkers.
- Eat nutritious meals, get plenty of quality sleep, and make sure to exercise.
- Engage in relaxing activities.
- Try to meditate, journal, or listen to calming music.
- Set boundaries - parents don’t need to reach them at home or after hours.
- Tell them to ask for help when they need it. Make sure everyone has contact information and resources to help with self-care and support.
Sometimes, a staff member or teacher must take a day. While substitutes are hard to find, ask administrators and non-teaching staff to fill in. Leave it up to the teacher how to use the time off.
Bridge from the School Day to Afterschool
Create time for classroom teachers and afterschool staff to exchange observations, and include afterschool staff in teacher events, grade-level meetings, and celebrations. Invite them to contribute feedback and participate in student-teacher conferences.
Provide the teacher's manual or answer key to afterschool staff so they can provide practical homework help. If the school and your program have returned to the classroom, allow the program to store materials in the corner of a teacher's closet or classroom.
Above all, recognize the value of your afterschool teachers and staff. Advocate for more funding so they can be paid what they are worth.
According to the Yale study above, teachers want to feel happy, inspired, valued, supported, effective, and respected. Teachers said they need time to adjust to the new normal of online learning and find ways to make it fun and engaging.
Your afterschool staff requires honesty, respect, kindness, flexibility, and patience from the school’s administrators. They deserve strategies and time to support their own mental and emotional health.
Use Staff Management Software
The staffing module of EZReports manages all information for afterschool staff, external providers, and partners. You can manage demographics, participation, scheduling, and attendance in one place.
The software allows staff members to be associated with multiple sites or locations. You can manage a database of external providers and link providers or partners to grants from which they receive funding.
It allows the staff to record student attendance for their sessions or groups of students. And it records and tracks staff attendance.
The web-based software helps you administer your afterschool program by computing the hours worked by each staff member, the hours for providers or partners, and generating multiple reports on staff and providers. It also automatically generates the Fed21APR staffing report.
Let your afterschool staff and teachers know how much you value them by providing the tools to bridge the gap during these abnormal times effectively.