The role of senior leaders helping improve the enthusiasm of staff cannot be overstated. Trusting staff whilst not increasing workload unnecessarily; thanking people & praise when it’s due; listening to them; promoting a positive work/life balance are also some small, but impactful strategies that leaders can exhibit when supporting staff. Get out the office and into the classroom and taking the time to praise/question the kids during lessons, but also consider less directed time on after-school activities during these winter terms so that it feels like you have some of the daytime left when the end of the day comes. Essentially, don’t send micromanaging emails before 7am or after 6.30pm!
So, what external factors may impact the enthusiasm of the profession as a whole? Curriculum and exam changes with very little support or guidance from exam boards for a start, but also people make assumptions and its hard to keep up with that. It’s a weird profession and keeps meaning to study out of hours working (e.g. twitter users) of teachers against other professions…think it would be interesting! Twitter is fab when teachers are sharing resources, tips, advice. But conversely, all this wonderful stuff can make you feel that what you are doing isn’t. An amazing display can cause you to panic that yours needs work etc! Also, the stream of research and findings that contradict previous research and findings makes you constantly question whether you’re doing the right thing in the classroom. A lack of faith in the profession can be tough, parental support is so vital to the success of the school and the learning journey.
How can that enthusiasm of new teachers be maintained for the length of a career? If you are doing what you love, in a school that you love then that is half the battle! If a school isn’t working for you, don’t quit the profession. Try and find a new school (Sometimes easier said than done). Utilise any NQTs, as they are usually armed with great lesson ideas and the latest teaching methods – some of which may be mince but some will be fantastic! Teachers are motivated by making a difference in kids’ life opportunities. High ability or low. If our education system is a partner in helping them make that happen, then people stay. Don’t get stuck in a rut. Allow and encourage staff to try new things.
Enthusiasm grows when pupils see the relevance in the subject matter, particularly in English and maths. When it clicks that E&M will make them a better mechanic/ builder/ carpenter /chef etc. they buy into it a whole lot more. Show students that they matter, allowing them to make mistakes and feel good about doing so; listen to their stories. Excellence should be about doing your best for the students and the school (remembering that excellence isn’t 100% sustainable all the time).