Hedreich Nichols

November 2022

Three Things Districts Can Do to Promote Teacher Retention, with Dr. Kevin Leichtman of TLC Educates

Part 1
Part 2

With 90% of teachers surveyed by NEA experiencing burnout, the education industry obviously has room for growth in the ways teachers are supported in the workplace. As stated in last week’s episode, wellness initiatives do not ensure teacher wellness. This week and next, SmallBites has enlisted author and burnout researcher Dr. Kevin Leichtman of TLC Educate to give district and campus leaders insight and impactful strategies to help them help teachers stave off burnout. 

Retaining talented, well trained teachers is the best way to ensure equitable learning environments for all students.

Read more on burnout here.

About the guest:

Kevin Leichtman received his Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from Florida Atlantic University, where he also completed a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction. His dissertation study was on new teacher burnout. His research has been published in a textbook on andragogy and pedagogy, and he is the author of “Teacher’s Guide to the Mental Edge” and his upcoming book, “The Perfect Ten: Ten Students, Ten Mindsets, One New Definition of Perfect.”

Kevin is also an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University, teaching equity and diversity courses to education majors. Kevin has developed curriculum, professional development, and presented on the topics of mindset, burnout, and equity to teachers, schools, and students across the nation.

Connect with Kevin:

Twitter: @KevinLeichtman

Tiktok: @tlceducates

Instagram: @kevinleichtman

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Work-Life Balance=Teacher Wellness

With all the talk of teacher wellness, I find that in the lives of the teachers I know, and in the lives of teachers they know, there is a lot of yoga, a lot of meditation, a lot of emoji checking in and tons of surveys about what’s working. What classroom educators are missing is time; and that means working in schools that support a healthy work-life balance.

While it’s common knowledge that teacher workload and stress have increased over the last few decades, the common solutions don’t seem to address the stressors in a way that makes teachers feel supported. According to EdWeek, chart 1 clearly shows that wellness initiatives popular with district administrators are among the least popular with teachers.

What’s Missing?

What are districts missing? There are many reasons that teachers have a higher burnout rate than any other US workers, but work life balance is one of teachers’s top concerns. Yet, Google searches for teacher wellness are full of SEL strategies, yoga, meditation and other band-aids that could be effective, if teachers had the time to practice them consistently. How can administrators give teachers the one thing they really need—time?

1. Conduct blind surveys on wellness initiatives (really blind, requiring no campus or grade level information).

Combat the fear of being disparaged because of educator anonymity. Teachers need to comfortable sharing their thoughts without fear of retribution.

2. Shadow beginning and seasoned teachers to pilot every initiative before district-wide implementation.

Like with most tasks, everything takes longer than you expect.  By shadowing teachers in the real-world classroom, you’ll be able to evaluate (and tweak) your initiative’s implementation, not just implement an idea with no real world testing.

3. Adjust your scope or year-at-a-glance documents to utilize 80%, rather than 100% of the instructional block.

The awards ceremony, the field trip, the fire drill, the active shooter practice, the student melt down, the emergency coverage—these are all regular events that influence the number of minutes actually available for instructional purposes. If your scope is based on bell-to-bell teaching, teachers will be perpetually behind. And remember, mindful moments, brain breaks, student questions, ‘wait time’, classroom clean up and many other class community activities are also instructional, even if they are not connected to the content.

Wellness initiatives often look good on paper but lack impact. Reducing teacher workload is the number one way to retain a quality teaching staff. And a retaining a quality teaching staff is at the core of equitable learning experiences for all students.

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Marching Band Musings (Representation Matters)

When is the last time you saw a student with trisomy 21 on the field playing drums? When you grew up, were gender non-conforming, male presenting students allowed to be a part of color guard or dance team? Were Afrocentric hairstyles represented on the field—even gracing the heads of Eurocentric students? Were girls even drum majors?

Bands of America Represent!

This week, I got a needed rest from the toil of fighting to elevate the voices of all students. This week, I went to the Bands of America Super Regionals and unexpectedly got to bask in the progress that I often miss, while helping others to see what still needs to be fixed in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. For that, I am grateful.

How can you be a part of this progress? How can you make room on your campuses for cultures and stories that have traditionally been missing in our country’s classrooms?

Here are three resources to help you increase representation in the performing arts.

Add classical music by composers who are not White males to your repertoire.

Study famous artists who are not White or European.

Use this Quizlet as a jumping off place to research minoritized playwrights. Then, select one act plays by writers of non-European descent for UIL.

And for all other contents, here is a collection of resources for all contents looking for ways to highlight traditionally non-centered narratives.

As we celebrate another ’cultural month’ with dedicated to Native American History, let’s remember that representation matters all year.

And btw, don’t forget to vote. Here is my favorite resource, the Ballotpedia sample ballot tool.

And if you have problems at the pools, call or text 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) to speak with a trained Election Protection volunteer.

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