Elevating Educator Voices: Teachers Share Challenges, Needs in Wake of Pandemic

This summer, we engaged over 300 teachers, principals, and district leaders from across the country through an online survey and small-group interviews. We wanted to explore how familiar they are with student success systems, learn more about the systems districts and schools already have in place and how they are helping or falling short, and discover what supports educators need to enhance their work and improve student outcomes.  Throughout our research, we heard three consistent themes: 

~ A lack of teacher time and resources

~ A desire for more collaboration

~ A need for additional support for the significant number of students impacted by the pandemic

Lack of Time and Resources: Educators spoke of not having enough time, resources, or staff to meet the current needs of students. With the added stress and challenges brought on by the pandemic, new initiatives and interventions often feel like yet another thing on their already impossible to-do lists. 

Often, implementing new initiatives or building upon existing ones in schools can feel overwhelming and unachievable without additional staff. But the talent and expertise already exist within the building. To harness this, schools need support to reorganize and refine the systems of support they have in their schools. 

When reflecting on GRAD Partnership’s definition of student success systems, one middle school counselor commented, “We are already doing all this work in the classroom, all these interventions and the hard work that we are putting in every day. This is a system that’s going to help us streamline it and rethink how we’re doing things rather than completely changing what’s happening in our school to get our students ready for the next level and beyond.”

Collaboration: Teachers and departments often can feel siloed and used to working within their areas of discipline. But educators want to be part of a community, both within and beyond their school.  When given the opportunity to work in teams, teachers are more satisfied and feel more effective (Bos et. al, 2022). Student success systems help schools shift from a culture of isolation to one of collective support and shared responsibility, including bringing community groups into the conversation to help support schools. 

One educator in our group interviews said, “In education, there’s so many roles. You have a teacher, you have paraprofessionals, you have all these people who work with students and see their needs, but they may not know how to or who to talk to about referrals or just accessing additional support.”

Additional support: After the pandemic, there are growing numbers of students who are off track for graduation. But with teachers already feeling stretched thin, there is little appetite for new initiatives that will add to teachers’ responsibilities. 

One teacher in our group interviews noted, “I just keep thinking that education in our post-COVID world, we’ve shown that there’s a lot of cracks in education, and this could be a way to help fill in and build the foundation back maybe even a little bit stronger than it was before by having systems in place and supports for teachers to help individual students.”

Student success systems can help address these concerns by helping schools rethink how they organize, implement, and refine their strategies to support students. The GRAD Partnership also offers an opportunity for schools to connect, share experiences, and learn from peers from other areas of the country. By focusing on actionable data, supportive relationships, and a collective and evidence-based approach, we can work together to improve outcomes for students.  

To learn more, join our webinar with AASA on November 17, 2022, at 3 p.m. Register here

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