The success of a school is attributed to many factors, and one of the main indicators of this is a happy and engaged team of teachers. The impact of happy teachers on students and school life is profound, yet when we’re constantly reminded of the pressures the UK education system is facing, it can be difficult to engage with staff, improve their happiness at work and create a culture in which they and your students will thrive.
When staff are engaged at work they’re more productive, retention is higher, turnover is lower and all in all, they’re more loyal. However, in order to reap these benefits and enjoy an engaged workforce, teachers need to have an outlet for their opinions, especially when teaching is under such scrutiny at the moment and there is a recognised crisis.
Gathering honest teacher feedback from your team will not only help your staff in feeling valued and help on your mission to improve culture and wellbeing - it gives you invaluable insight into your role as a member of SLT and the decisions you’re making. It’s easy when we’re under immense pressure ourselves and working with our team’s best interests at heart, to implement change without taking into account the wider teams opinions.
This can have serious repercussions on staff such as them becoming disgruntled and not actively working with you to implement the change you’ve actioned - it can also create a divide between SLT and the rest of the school which leads to a frosty culture. Success in a school sees Headteachers involving staff in these decisions and getting opinions at all stages of a new process. This means teachers will have a genuine interest in the new initiative, will believe that their opinion is valid but also - it gives you the opportunity to foster new skills in your team, get a new perspective on ideas, and ultimately brings everyone together as a team.
The key to gathering feedback from teachers that will help you to improve their time at work and also the wider running of the school, is to not make it a ‘thing’. An annual anonymous survey could mean that teachers save up all their grievances and ideas because they feel as though this is the only time they’re heard - but chances are if this is the case, by the time feedback is gathered it’s too late in terms or retention or allowing time to implement good ideas.
In order for feedback to be worthwhile, it needs to be consistent and natural. Feedback should be allowed and encouraged at all points throughout the academic year - provide teachers with suggestion boxes, ask for opinions during meetings, and check in with school-wide initiatives that affect staff so they’re involved and can contribute along the way. This gets staff engaged and delegating tasks to team members who care, meaning you’re offering them new CPD opportunities and spreading the workload.
To actually get teachers to give their feedback, take the fear away from speaking up and create a culture of honesty and openness. Listen to what staff have to say and try not to take it personally, actually ask for their opinion and perhaps most importantly, revisit feedback you’ve received. This is most important to genuinely making your staff feel valued and that their opinion counts; one of the most common reasons for staff not providing feedback is because they feel as though it is a waste of time, as it’s never followed up on.
By taking the time to make a change to the way you collect feedback and promote teacher engagement and voice, you could make changes that have long term positive impacts on your school. A culture where opinions are encouraged sets a good example for students and allowing teachers to voice their ideas means that issues can be resolved or addressed before they become real problems, which in turn means happier staff and higher retention.
More on this topic: Fostering a Positive School Culture