Current Teacher Morale due to Covid-19 as surveyed by Ed Week Research Center
School leadership plays one of the most critical roles in improving and sustaining faculty morale. In this executive summary, school leaders can find the most effective practices to improve and sustain morale.
Given the current state of morale within schools due to Covid-19, teacher morale has never been a more important issue. Understanding what impacts morale is essential to improve and sustain morale as school leaders. The morale of teachers is impacted by two factors: school leadership and accountability pressures. Synthesis of relevant research found that school leadership played the most integral role in improving teacher morale (Briggs & Richardson, 1992; Erichsen & Reynolds, 2020; Evans, 1997; Lambersky, 2016; Lane, Jones, & Penny, 2019; Mackenzie, 2007). However, the impact of working in a school with accountability pressures should not be ignored. Accountability pressure is best defined as the connection to high-stakes standardized test scores and the ability of teachers to meet yearly expectations for students (Erichson & Reynolds, 2020). This kind of environment creates more stress for teachers. In addition, schools have varying levels of accountability pressures making the morale variable. However, one of the most critical factors for improving morale is school leadership.
Through a synthesis of relevant research, four main conclusions are listed below on practices that improve or sustain morale.
- Visibility as a school leader.
- Look to eliminate stressors from teachers when possible.
- Teachers want to be professionally valued, and their voices heard.
- Being able to communicate a clear and articulated vision.
From the above key findings, school leadership can implement practices that have been proven to improve the morale of teachers. First, as a school leader, being visible throughout the school and assisting in student behavior concerns improve the morale of the school. In addition, eliminating stressors like additional after-school meetings, decreasing the amount of professional development throughout the year, and delegating tasks proportionally aid in improving morale. Teachers also want to be valued and heard for their professional contributions. When possible, inviting teachers to partake in committees or attend meetings that help shape or shift school policy would benefit teacher morale. Lastly, as school leaders, communicating a clear and articulated vision improves initiative buy-in.
As school leaders, you possess the power to influence and create positive change. Thus, implementing the practices below could lead to an increase in morale as well as a mechanism for sustaining morale within your school.
- Enable teachers to have a voice in decision-making processes. Find opportunities to have teacher representation join committees or meetings to represent their collective voice (Briggs & Richardson, 1992; Lambersky, 2016).
- Communicate a clear vision and goal. Teachers are more committed to a deeply committed vision they see and understand (Lambersky, 2016). Furthermore, involving teachers in the vision creation process improves commitment (Bloom, 1956; Briggs & Richardson, 1992; Erichsen & Reynolds, 2020; Lambersky, 2016).
- Recognize teachers for their hard work, dedication, and expertise. Leadership should look for ways to involve teachers in educational programming. In addition, offering teachers professional respect has been shown to improve morale (Lambersky, 2016)
- Be visible as a leader within the school. Lambersky (2016) found an overall sense of positivity and enthusiasm when teachers saw their school leadership throughout the school day. In addition, when school administrators assisted with behavior support within the school, morale improved with teachers as they felt more supported.
- Preventing adding stress to a teacher's job. As leaders, eliminating stress-inducing occurrences like reducing the amount of additional after-school meetings, reducing the amount of professional development during the school year, and delegating tasks proportionally across grade levels will at minimally sustain morale (Briggs & Richardson, 1992; Mackenzie, 2007).
As school leaders, you are one of the most influential factors in improving the morale of teachers within your school. Due to Covid-19, teachers have had to constantly adjust and change how they typically educate their students. Furthermore, the added stress of teaching in a pandemic has impacted the overall morale within schools. As school leaders, investigating how to improve the morale of your faculty will benefit both teachers and overall student achievement. Fortunately, the practices listed are not complicated or tedious. Thus, incorporating the practices mentioned will significantly impact the morale of your faculty.
Blum, M. L. (1956). industrial psychology of its social foundations. New York: Harper 8 Brothers.
Briggs, L. d., & Richardson, W. d. (1992). Causes and effects of low morale among secondary teachers. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 19(2), 87.
Crisis of Confidence: Results of National Surveys on Educator Morale During a Pandemic. (2020, June). https://www.edweek.org/research-center/research-center-reports/crisis-of-confidence-results-of-national-surveys-on-educator-morale-during-a-pandemic
Erichsen, K., & Reynolds, J. (2020). Public school accountability, workplace culture, and teacher morale. Social Science Research, 85, 102347. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2019.102347
Evans, L. (1997). Understanding teacher morale and job satisfaction. Teaching and Teacher Education, 13(8), 831–845. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0742-051X(97)00027-9
Lambersky, J. (2016). Understanding the Human Side of School Leadership: Principals’ Impact on Teachers’ Morale, Self-Efficacy, Stress, and Commitment. Leadership & Policy in Schools, 15(4), 379–405. https://doi.org/10.1080/15700763.2016.1181188
Lane, L. J., Jones, D., & Penny, G. R. (2019). Qualitative case study of teachers' morale in a turnaround school. Research in Higher Education Journal, 37, 1-12. Retrieved from http://proxy.library.vcu.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/qualitative-case-study-teachers-morale-turnaround/docview/2396825500/se-2?accountid=14780
Mackenzie, N. (2007). Teacher morale: More complex than we think? Australian Educational Researcher (Australian Association for Research in Education), 34(1), 89–104. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03216852
Blake Roberts is an international educator who is passionate about making schools more inclusive and an effective learning environment for all. Blake is currently pursuing a Doctorate degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Educational Leadership. He currently holds a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. Blake has held various positions within schools, most recently serving as a full-time classroom teacher and Learning Specialist at Chadwick International in South Korea. Blake also serves as the Director of Professional Learning with SENIA (Special Education Network and Inclusion Association) which has been an incredibly rewarding experience for him. Blake’s research interests include effective teaming processes, inclusive practices, and ethical decision-making.