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Teachers are experiencing increasing demands on their time and decreasing resources to meet those demands. Here’s a way to put things back in balance.
Teachers have always felt like the balance at work was tenuous: It often feels like there is insufficient time, too many changes, and too many students with complex needs for one teacher to handle alone. Yet teachers generally found a way to persist and maintain their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
This past year, things felt different. Prognosticators who imagined the year would be easier than the previous one were sadly mistaken. School shootings. Security threats at school board meetings. Covid fatigue. Insufficient pay. Insufficient support. As teachers struggle with the combined weight of these issues, it has led to a greater physical, psychological, and emotional imbalance for our nation’s educators than ever before.
There are real costs to the stress that teachers are currently experiencing. In the National Education Association’s November 2023 teacher survey, 55 percent stated that they were more likely to leave the profession early, up from 28 percent in July 2023. Ninety percent of teachers in the same survey stated that they perceived burnout as somewhat or very serious. The RAND 2023 State of the U.S. Teacher Survey found that, compared with the general population, a higher percentage of teachers reported frequent job-related stress and depression symptoms.
To establish and maintain a highly effective teaching staff, we must acknowledge that management practices profoundly affect our educators. As important as instructional leadership is, it will not resolve teachers’ professional imbalance between job demands and available resources. Emotional leadership, or leadership that tends to the social and emotional well-being of adults in schools, is explicitly aimed at balancing job demands and resources so that teachers can experience a state of well-being at work. Emotional leadership might help address the current state of imbalance for teachers.
The Demand-Resources Equation
Consider an equation that places job demands on one side and job resources on the other. When job demands outpace job resources, imbalance emerges, negatively impacting teachers. For instance, increased stress levels can lead to decreased job performance, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. All of those factors raise the potential for increased burnout and attrition, which flow downhill to impact children.
Job demands this year included teaching children as well as stressors like awareness of school safety or the potential consequences of using a controversial book. Potential resources, in this context, include intangible supporting dynamics like time, job control, social support, or supportive leadership. When resources are lacking, teachers are more prone to stress and begin to experience burnout.
The long-term consequences of imbalance are pervasive and expensive, both economically and personally. Imbalance costs school districts directly for physical and mental health treatment expenses; in the long term, imbalance becomes even more expensive due to increased insurance premium costs, diminished productivity, and turnover.
Creating a Better Balance
Kenneth Leithwood, a leadership professor at the University of Toronto, identifies four school leadership “paths”: the rational, organizational, family, and emotional paths. The first three relate to leaders’ investing time and resources in instruction, operations, and relationships. The emotional path, however, is rarely addressed. Emotional leadership brings increased balance by centering the emotional path, tending to the emotional needs of the community that can result from the stresses of job imbalances.
So, how might an emotionally attuned leader work to balance the demand-resource equation?
Subtracting demands: First, as leaders, we need to learn to subtract. It is easy to believe that we need to add more programs to address some of the deficiencies from the past few years. Our leadership brains tell us overwhelmingly to add, but this mindset increases demands on teachers’ time, focus, and energy. Instead, school leaders need to think longer-term and consider subtracting demands in the following ways:
Decrease demands on a teacher’s mental energy. As a school campus, focus on achieving one essential school improvement goal, like getting all students back on grade level. Then, see whether that focus has a greater impact than if you were focusing on four to six goals. From an emotional leadership standpoint, this strategy can decrease stress and burnout and increase teachers’ sense of efficacy by minimizing the need to juggle multiple priorities.
Reduce demands on teacher time. Audit each demand placed on the teachers that does not directly impact the essential goal you identified above, and suspend it for a time to see what happens. Look at all your meetings, reports, and testing dates and ruthlessly ask, “If we didn’t do this anymore, would it hurt our students?” If yes, keep it; if no, pause it. You can always add things back in. You are trying to free up time for teachers to feel like they have more control over their lives. For instance, allow teachers to use their planning times for actual planning as much as possible. Again, from an emotional leadership standpoint, this strategy can decrease stress and burnout and buffer teacher time for more focus on students.
Explicitly state what is not important. This clarity is key: After you reduce the number of goals for teachers, you must also clarify what teachers do not need to worry about completing. Providing focus means not just reducing the number of demands you make on teachers but also making plain which previously held demands can now float off their radar.
Increasing resources for support: After subtracting demands, consider increasing resources if the equation still isn’t in balance.
Return as many decisions as possible back to teachers, especially when it comes to their students. Job control is the largest factor that helps teachers feel satisfied with their work. From an emotional leadership standpoint, giving more control back to teachers can help develop more trust and job satisfaction.
Research has shown that teachers need supportive leadership to build trust, self-efficacy, and motivation. Leaders must learn to support these common emotional needs most frequently mentioned as important to teacher well-being. These can be supported by leaders who learn how to recognize when they are low and build them through leadership actions such as reinforcing the meaning of being a teacher or helping them manage stressful situations.
Teachers may be in the midst of a great resignation, and there is little mystery why. Teachers have led unbalanced lives for too long, and administrators have neglected to provide tools for balancing job demands and resources. By subtracting demands and supporting teachers with more resources, school leaders can increase the satisfaction and commitment of teachers to their profession.
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Here are some steps school administrators can take to improve the quality of teachers coming into their classrooms, as well as ensure that new and experienced teachers have the support necessary to continue in the profession.
The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) has an online District Resource Center that provides information that can be used by anyone interested in improving teaching at the district level. These resources include NCTAF’s district teaching policy inventory, an article on promising district induction programs, and links to a range of Web sites that provide information on improving teaching in local school districts.Start a professional development school
Throughout the country, colleges of education are collaborating with their local public schools to create laboratories for the preparation and continuing professional development of teachers, administrators, and other school support personnel. Professional development schools allow a meshing of the theory and psychology of learning taught by university professors and the daily practicalities of teaching that include how to design lesson plans and classroom management.Identify mentors
Cultivate experienced teachers interested in working with teacher candidates and beginning teachers, provide them with mentoring training, and then match them with beginning teachers. As noted in the NCTAF’s article, “What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future,” research shows that beginning teachers working under the guidance of a trained mentor are much more likely to remain in the profession and to move beyond classroom management issues and focus their time and attention on student learning.Create incentives for teachers to stay in the field
Ongoing, meaningful professional development opportunities and salary increases that bring teacher pay scales on a par with those of other professionals provide beginning and experienced teachers alike with the support and assistance necessary to stay in the field.Redesign and streamline hiring and recruitment
Decentralized hiring, innovative use of the Internet to announce openings and recruit new educators, and the early hiring of new teachers have all been identified as important steps toward recruiting and maintaining the most highly trained teaching staff. Teacher Recruitment is the subject of the August-September 2000 issue of The Education Commission of the States newsletter, “The Progress of Education Reform,” and includes links to many effective teacher recruitment programs throughout the United States.Work with local colleges of education to recruit teachers from underrepresented groups and nontraditional career paths
Colleges of education cannot begin to fill the nationwide need for well-trained teachers — or teachers who represent the diverse group of students filling today’s classrooms. One exemplary program whose mission is to recruit paraprofessionals (particularly minority and male applicants) in K-12 schools to become fully certificated teachers is The Pathways to Teaching Careers Program, established by the DeWitt Wallace-Readers Digest Funds in 1989.Resources
The Educational Testing Service. ETS offers a multi-faceted course for schools interested in beginning a mentor teacher program.
Essential Conditions for Teacher Preparation. In an easy-to-read chart and text format, the International Society for Technology in Education lays out what education personnel — from teacher-educators to local school administrators — need to do to promote teacher preparation in technology.
“Promising Practices: New Ways to Improve Teacher Quality.” This U.S. Department of Education report describes promising policies and practices in the teaching profession. Topics addressed include recruiting talented and diverse people into the teaching profession, improving teacher preparation, providing professional support to beginning teachers, and improving teacher accountability and incentives.
Some of the most challenging moments in a teacher’s day are during transitions—those moments when we move between academic subject areas or activities. Students may see transitions as an opportunity to release tension built up after long periods of passive instruction. Teachers, on the other hand, generally want short and efficient transitions from one activity to another.
These differing needs can lead to conflict. Students may be frustrated that they have little opportunity for social conversation or individual self-care. Teachers may be frustrated that their transitions are taking too long precisely because kids are indulging in social conversation or individual self-care.
But we may be missing an opportunity here. After all, what students are craving is the opportunity to relate to one another positively and practice self-management by giving themselves a break between sessions. These are important social and emotional learning (SEL) skill areas, and transitions can easily be infused with SEL skills practice. Let’s think together about how we can create transitions that fulfill both our needs and the needs of our students.The Teacher’s Need for Efficient Transitions
How many of us have stopped instruction to remind students to refrain from side conversations? It’s a frustrating experience for any teacher. Because presentational instruction is often more effective and efficient when students are silent, some of us conclude that students should be silent during transitions as well. But what creates effective and efficient transitions is clarity, not silence. We need to consider the possibility that transitions could involve talking, laughing, moving joyfully, or listening to music and still be efficient, if we are clear about what should be happening in the transition.Understanding Student Needs
Classroom climate is determined by the quality of the relationships in the room. Positive relationships make everyone feel safe and supported, which, as research tells us, increases academic performance. Our students’ urge to have social conversations throughout the day speaks to this need. In addition, sitting still and absorbing information for long periods is truly challenging for many students, as it is for many adults. In addition to connecting positively with their peers, students may need a chance to cultivate their own self-management skills by engaging in some type of self-care between long periods of passive academic instruction.Meeting Teacher and Student Needs
If we accept that our need for efficient transitions and our students’ needs for social conversation and self-care are equally valid, we can look at transitions as an opportunity to provide everyone with more of what they need. We just need to provide some guidance about what kind of social conversation or self-care students can engage in during transitions.
Sometimes kids simply need a break between activities. These breaks can be as short as two or three minutes. The more autonomy that we provide during breaks, the more willing students will be to join us in the next planned activity. Consider providing a menu of break activities and let students choose. You could allow them to chat with friends quietly, draw, write in their journal, listen to music using headphones, daydream, or stretch or move around in some other way—especially helpful between sedentary tasks.
Sometimes, you may want to suggest transition activities that address the particular needs of the moment. For instance:
Successful Thinking: Learning from past failures and using personal intuition are crucial factors of success, says L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand CEO Rodrigo Pizarro.
The past few years have been difficult for companies and leaders globally. However, for L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand CEO Rodrigo Pizarro, his family background of entrepreneurship and resilience in Portugal helped him to not only pivot the cosmetic and skincare company’s focus during the global pandemic, but to significantly grow the company.
Pizarro, who has led the local arm of the global cosmetics and its 40 brands for eight years, says during the pandemic, listening intently to his employees and customers and acting promptly “ahead of the trends” was an important part of the company’s success.
Under Pizarro’s leadership, L’Oreal has transformed into a leading digital business, with a strong focus on data analytics and AI. Every employee at the company in Australia and New Zealand has undergone a data literacy program to enable them to make data-centric decisions, Pizarro says.
L’Oreal Group, the French parent company of L’Oreal Australia and NZ, reported revenue of 18.6 billion euros ($28.5 billion) for the first six month of 2023, an increase of almost 20% on the previous corresponding period. In Australia, the company experienced double-digit growth in the second quarter of 2023.What was the most formative thing in your childhood that made you want to succeed in business?
Seeing my father’s journey over his working years. Seeing him succeed, fail, succeed once more, only to fail again three times. The first two times as a senior executive in two different organisations, the third while running his own business.
I have learned from all moments, but mostly from his failures. I have learned about resilience – it’s not how you fall but how you get back up. I learned about trust, or better, when not to trust.How have you managed to build L’Oréal Australia and its stable of around 40 brands despite a challenging market?
First and foremost, I have surrounded myself with an incredible team of talented people who are skilled in their respective fields and positions. As the CEO, it’s my job to ensure that our people are nurtured professionally and personally. For me, it’s about keeping my eyes on the future – anticipating and creating a vision of what will keep us at the forefront of the market. A few imperative things that come to mind include our strong focus on data and analytics, growth of technological and digital innovations … and of course, robust sustainability initiatives.When choosing what trends to back, what’s your decision-making process?
Trends, by definition, come and go. Yes, we can surf them on the short term, but to be successful long-term we need to identify what the behaviours are that are here to stay and over-invest in them. To establish what these are, we need to be constantly listening to our consumers and employees and tuned in to the overall vision of the industry and key opinion leaders within it. Lastly, we all need a little bit of luck.
“I have learned about resilience – it’s not how you fall but how you get back up. I learned about trust, or better, when not to trust.”
– L’Oreal Australia and NZ CEO Rodrigo PizarroWhat characteristic of yourself do you think is underrated by other people?
I have a very strong vision and intuition about business growth drivers. I can identify quickly, in different circumstances … major opportunities for growth and the developments needed to drive significant transformations that will allow that growth.
This skill is also very useful in moments of crisis where I can keep my cool and see the ways out of it, anticipate and commit in decision making.
This was the case through Covid, focusing on people and making successive decisions initially to ensure their health and safety, but later to perfectly balance the employee wellbeing, motivation and productivity.Is there anything in your daily routine that keeps you sharp, sane and motivated?
Exercise. I start my day in the gym … to release adrenaline and get my body and mind ready for the everyday challenges of life. In my personal time, I like going on bicycle rides with my son, and being active by enjoying sports together.If you had $10,000 to invest, perhaps for a niece of nephew, where would you invest it?
I like to take risks, so I would invest if in NFT, or property in the Meta world – it’s the future.
This is an edited version of the conversation.
Whether Windows or Mac, every computer comes with some activity monitor to track the processes running on the system. Using it, users can see how much RAM and CPU every process is taking up. Interestingly, Chrome has its own Task Manager, where you can see which open tabs are using more memory, CPU, and Data.
Below is how you can use Chrome Task Manager:
Step 1: Tap on three dot icon in the top right corner of Chrome browser.
Step 3: In the more tools section you will find Task Manager tap on it. Alternatively, you can type Shift+ESC on Windows to open Chrome Task Manager. Sadly, there is no keyboard shortcut to access Chrome Task Manager on Mac as of now.
Step 4: Chrome Task Manager will be opened in a new window. It will show information like Task, Memory Print, Network, and Process ID.
Among the tasks, you can see which tab is using higher memory and CPU resources. If you find one such task that is using most of the resources select that task and tap on End Process. It will clear all the resources consumed by that process.
Memory Footprint: The next column in Chrome Task Manager is Memory footprint. It shows how much RAM is being used by individual processes that are running on Chrome. By looking at memory footprint, you can look at the amount of RAM Chrome is taking up to complete all the tasks you have thrown on it.
If you are facing any issue in opening other apps or your system is hanging, then open Task Manager on Chrome and look at your memory footprint.
CPU: It shows how much CPU resource each running process on Chrome is consuming. It is being shown in percentage, so If you get 2.9 against one of the processes. It means that process is using 2.9% of your CPU.
Network: It basically shows us how much data is being used by each process. When you open Task Manager, you will stop opening up new pages, and that’s why it shows 0 for every process. But when you start browsing or say you are playing a video On YouTube in one of your tabs. It will show the amount of data that is being transferred by that tab.
Process ID: You don’t have to think much about Process ID. It is a number given by Chrome for each process running at a particular moment. So please take it as a name for that specific process given by your computer.
I hope you now know how to check which Chrome tabs are hogging up your system resources like CPU and RAM. As mentioned, Chrome itself provides the way- you need not look anywhere else. Just open up Task Manager and check all the running processes and the memory, RAM, and data used. By looking at the chart, even a novice can check which tab is using more resources. I would recommend using Task manager on Chrome next time when Chrome starts to hang up on your computer.
LGBTQ Teachers Walk a Tightrope BU author calls for new ethos in our classrooms
Age-appropriate, scientifically accurate sexuality education, starting in elementary school, would help counter cultural assumptions about LGBTQ people, BU’s Catherine Connell argues. Photo courtesy of Connell
June, a lesbian high school teacher in Los Angeles, proudly marched in an LGBTQ pride parade, exulting in the young people who attended and telling BU’s Catherine Connell that she was “proud to be a gay teacher.”
Yet just a few days later, at her school, a noticeably subdued June greeted Connell, a College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of sociology. A classroom discussion of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had prompted one of June’s students to exclaim, “Huck Finn was a f—ing faggot!” June was torn: as a teacher whose students knew her sexual orientation, she felt badly that she hadn’t confronted the student. Yet she didn’t want to be known as a “gay teacher”—her march day remarks notwithstanding—but rather as a teacher who happens to be gay.
Recounting June’s dilemma, Connell concludes that there is a “fundamental incompatibility between the demands of contemporary LGBT politics, which center on the ethos of gay pride, and the norms of teaching professionalism, which expect teachers…to be cautious and self-disciplining about their personal—and sexual—lives.” That’s from Connell’s new book, School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom (University of California Press, 2014). After interviewing and observing gay teachers in California and Texas—the former bans discrimination against gays statewide, the latter does not—Connell found that teachers sometimes can’t manage this conflict and quit the profession altogether.
Connell’s book calls for a radical rethinking of classroom culture.BU Today: Can you discuss the various strategies teachers use for navigating the conflict between sexual identity and professionalism, and the shortcomings you see in each?
Connell: Strategies fall into three basic categories that I call splitting, knitting, and quitting.
Splitters attempt to keep a strict division between their identities as teachers and as gays/lesbians. Imagine dropping off your sexual identity (and along with it, much of your personal biography) at the schoolhouse doors and trying to pick it back up at the end of the day. Knitters try to weave together their professional and sexual identities into a cohesive whole by bringing their sexual identities and politics into the classroom in different ways. Quitters find the process of splitting too arduous and the process of knitting too risky, so they leave classroom instruction by either moving into administration or out of the profession entirely.
Each has significant drawbacks. Splitters feel stressed, exhausted, and often guilty from the work of keeping their professional and personal worlds separate. Knitters put themselves at very significant risk for discrimination, harassment, and job termination. Quitters have to give up their jobs, and often their professional goals, to avoid the conflict.What’s the solution?
If there were federal protections in place for LGBTQ workers, it would go a long way toward lowering the stakes of disclosure for teachers who want to take that path. Further, we need to reconsider the outdated and anti-gay assumptions that underlie the expectations of teaching professionalism, which hurt not only LGBTQ teachers, but also contribute to school environments that feel unsafe and unwelcome for LGBTQ students and perpetuate homophobic and hetero-normative attitudes in their peers.
The problem doesn’t lie squarely with schools. The one-size-fits-all model of gay pride that demands disclosure is harmful in its own way. Relying on coming out as the primary mode of sexual justice is too individualistic; our focus should really be on the ways that anti-gay and anti-trans sentiment and policy are woven into the fabric of our most sacred institutions and social rituals.How many LGBTQ teachers quit the job?
We don’t have that data, but we do know that LGBTQs face significant workplace discrimination and harassment, and that this contributes to job dissatisfaction, turnover, and underemployment of LGBTQ workers more generally. For teachers, who are held to very conservative expectations of on-the-job comportment, I would imagine these negative outcomes are amplified. In fact, teachers are under a microscope even when they aren’t on the clock; formal and informal morality clauses that dictate teachers’ public and even private behavior are still common in the profession.Could you summarize your argument that the campaign for LGBTQ rights winds up reinforcing discrimination?
I wouldn’t say that LGBTQ rights, per se, reinforce discrimination, but I do think that some of the tactics of today’s rights campaigns further marginalize a subsection of the community. Whereas the gay liberation politics of 50 years ago embraced an ethics of difference, resistance, and revolution, the contemporary gay rights movement has taken a turn toward emphasizing sameness, normalcy, and incorporation into the status quo. LGBTQs who don’t want to—or can’t—fit into this normalizing project are not just being left behind, they’re often being told that they are the problem! Rather than discourage teachers from “acting gay” and encourage them to act and look just like their straight counterparts to get by, why can’t we question the institutional and professional norms that limit us to acting and looking just one way?
I am all for celebrating LGBTQ people! I’m just suspicious of limiting the celebratory spotlight to those who appear “normal.” I do expect that some people will feel that doing so is a necessary, strategic compromise on the road to broader rights and acceptance for all, and I respect that. I’m just perhaps more skeptical and cynical about the outcomes of such a compromise.What do you mean when you suggest in your book that we take “more seriously the idea of children’s own sexual agency” and that “children have a right to the world of sexuality?”
Part of what sustains the pride/professionalism dilemma is the cultural assumption that children should be shielded from knowledge of LGBTQ genders/sexualities, that this knowledge will be corrupting, confusing, even dangerous for children. That assumption ignores, of course, the existence of LGBTQ children, and it also underestimates all kids’ capacities for understanding the existence of LGBTQ people. The belief that children are asexual and ignorant of sexuality is so pervasive in our culture, it’s very difficult for many of us to accept any suggestion to the contrary.
But I do believe that children should be given more credit as sexual subjects. In practice, this might mean, among other things, incorporating age-appropriate, scientifically accurate sexuality education into K-12 curriculum in ways that would both respect their right to sexual knowledge and set them up to make truly empowered and informed decisions about sex and sexuality later in life.
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