Most of us are incredibly happy to be taking in the sun and chilling by the pool this summer. However, if you’re a recruiter for a school, this time of the year is one of the busiest and most stressful. Statistics about teachers quitting and finding work elsewhere are alarming. In some countries almost half of the teaching positions need to be filled; in France, 4 000 teaching posts were left empty after the national recruitment in 2022; the Philipines need an extra 147 000 teachers to reduce the classroom size, etc. So, how can we recruit more teachers? Glad you asked.
Addressing the issues
Burn out has only recently been recognised as a major problem in the workplace. Luckily, we’re talking about it now which is the first step to fixing the problem. There’s still a long way to go. Teachers are among the most likely to experience burn out in their careers. In fact, more than half say they experience symptoms of burn out. More than half feel physically and mentally exhausted on a daily basis. More than half experience high levels of stress regularly. Hundreds of thousands of teachers quit the profession every year because of burn out.
Considering the huge responsibility that rests on the shoulders of teachers, we should all be worried about these numbers. Children are incredibly sensitive to the emotions of those around them. A stressful environment can create high levels of stress for them too.
In order to fix this problem, we need to determine the key stress triggers. Here are a few:
- Supervising a large group of children who wear down the teacher’s patience
- Completing various tasks and juggling them at the same time
- Taking work home and having work on one’s mind constantly
- Doing repetitive work and not seeing results
- Hiding one’s emotions for long hours and not having enough breaks
For teachers to thrive in a school, recruiters need to ensure they are given small groups. This will also lead to improved learning for the children. While we all agree on this, the low number of candidates and even lower budget remain an obstacle for schools.
Furthermore, some tasks which teachers need to complete could be carried out by other employees. Uploading content, completing online report cards and setting up their profile on the internal database are all things that could be done by an administrative clerk.
Teaching teachers to separate their work and private life and enforcing it in the work environment will reduce the risk of burn out. By ensuring there are comfortable spaces for them to work on the campus and offering teachers their own desk, they can leave their work at school and disconnect in the evening. Equipment and material which must stay inside the school can also force them to leave work at work.
Lastly, the emotional workload weighs heavily on teachers. Recruiters need to find a way to elivate it. This can be done through regular class visits to give teachers a little break and light conversation. You can also organise monthly meetings where teachers can share their stress and frustrations. By talking about their problems, many people really feel the pressure come down.
We mentioned the administrative work which teachers need to add to their workload. In many ways, these problems have become worse as the world has become more digital. Some teachers take notes on papers, other use computers on various software. However, when it comes time to share the comments with the school, teachers need to redo all their hard work to fit the school norms. Not only does this waste a lot of time, it’s frustrating and draining.
There is another major problem connected to digitalisation. Once upon a time, teachers gave homework and students wrote it in a book. If parents wanted to communicate with teachers, they needed to ask for a meeting. Now, many schools expect teachers to upload homework to an educational platform. Furthermore, parents can reach out (and do so) with questions and complaints at all hours of the day.
With the pandemic, this all got that much worse! Teachers were uploading all their work and reaching out to students individually who struggled to understand the video platforms. Homework could only be sent via email and so this added hours of screen time.
Recruiters can employ teacher assistants to share the load. Schools can protect teachers by instructing parents to avoid harassing them. By highlighting these initiatives in the recruitment process, you’ll show your candidates you’ve understood some of their biggest challenges.
One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever see and in most classrooms that’s how many colleagues a teacher is working with: one. For long hours at a time, a teacher only interacts with children or adolescents. When the day draws to an end, many teachers need space from others because they’ve been speaking and listening and acting non-stop. It’s a vicious circle which leaves teachers feeling lonely and demotivated.
This is why monthly or even weekly meetings for lunch or drinks could make a huge difference in the lives of their staff. The best way to ensure teachers actually attend these gatherings is to make them compulsory. It goes without saying that they should also be paid.
Another initiative could include letting teachers know your door is always open. And say it a lot. People need to be reminded again and again that they can come to you so that they actually get up the courage to do so.
The best people to help recruit teachers are teachers themselves! In fact, we couldn’t have written this article without interviewing those in the profession to better understand their worries and complaints.
If you’re hiring teachers, start by speaking to the ones you already have in your school. It’s important to show them you care about their wellbeing first and you want to make changes based on what they experience within the school. By offering them an environment that is adapted to their needs, your current staff is far more likely to stay in the school to see it thrive.
Furthermore, as professionals in the teaching field, they often have other teaching friends or family. By encouraging your staff (and candidates) to refer other professionals, you’ll be building a team which already has strong ties.
To start your search for teachers, check out some of our niche teaching job boards, starting with Teach Away. Let us know in the comments your successful recruitment stories!
Author: Ali Neill
As the job board tester and blog editor for the Jobboard Finder, Ali works on job boards from all around the world and keeps a close eye on the recruitment trends thanks to a number of sources, including the website’s social media pages.
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