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10 Ways to Boost Teacher Happiness Through Professional Development

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“Wherever you find something extraordinary, you’ll find the fingerprints of a great teacher.” –Arne Duncan

There are few jobs more important or impactful than teaching, yet it can also be a stressful job that puts a burden on the people who do it – particularly if they’re not getting the support they need. In an ideal world, all teachers would be happy in their jobs, and yet teacher happiness can be an elusive thing.

At Alludo, we’ve created an online professional development platform where teachers can thrive and grow. We have found that the right professional learning environment can contribute to teacher happiness and reduce teacher stress and turnover. Here are ten ways to increase teacher happiness in your district with professional development.

Table of Contents

  1. Why is Teacher Job Satisfaction Important?
    1. Job Satisfaction Influences Teachers’ Commitment and Participation
    2. Job Satisfaction Affects Student Performance and School Improvement
    3. Job Satisfaction Affects Overall Life Satisfaction
  2. What Percent of Teachers Are Happy?
  3. What Affects Teacher Job Satisfaction? (and 10 Strategies to Boost Teacher Happiness)
    1. Teacher Workload and Compensation
      1. Reduce Teacher Workload
      2. Provide Additional Compensation
      3. Make PD Relevant to What Teachers Do
    2. School Environment and Support
      1. Administrative Support & Leadership
      2. Student Behavior & School Atmosphere
      3. Teacher Autonomy
    3. Teacher Needs and Resources
      1. Ask Teachers What They Need and Provide Resources
      2. Improve and Offer Mentorship Opportunities
      3. Give Teachers a Voice
      4. Respect Teachers’ Time
  4. Alludo’s Take

Why is Teacher Job Satisfaction Important?

Teacher job satisfaction is important in any school district. Here are some of the ways in which satisfaction (or the lack thereof) can impact teachers, school districts, and students.

Job Satisfaction Influences Teachers’ Commitment and Participation

When teachers are satisfied with their jobs, they are likely to participate enthusiastically in everything from classroom activities to professional development. Happy teachers are also more likely to be committed to what they do.

These benefits accrue to students, but they also contribute to school and district success as a whole. Satisfied and enthusiastic teachers connect with their students. They’re also less likely to leave their jobs. It is far more expensive to replace a teacher than it is to retain a teacher by adding to their satisfaction. That’s something for school leaders to keep in mind.

Job Satisfaction Affects Student Performance and School Improvement

It’s no secret that teachers have the potential to impact their students profoundly and in both the short and long term. When teachers are satisfied with their jobs, their enthusiasm is something that their students will notice and reflect back at them. Student perception of teacher unhappiness will also affect students, but in a negative way.

School improvements are also connected to teacher job satisfaction. It can be difficult to motivate teachers to work toward school and district goals when they feel their efforts are unappreciated.

Measure PD Effectiveness

Job Satisfaction Affects Overall Life Satisfaction

Job satisfaction isn’t only related to the time teachers spend in the classroom or on other school-related activities. Satisfied teachers are more likely to be satisfied with their lives as a whole, too.

It should come as no surprise that teachers who are satisfied in their lives and have a positive outlook are also more likely to be enthusiastic and engaged with their students and their work. It’s all connected.

What Percent of Teachers Are Happy?

Alludo cares about teacher happiness and satisfaction, which is why we conducted a Teacher Happiness Survey. The findings may surprise you while also pointing in the direction of some ways to boost teacher happiness:

  • Among respondents who are not in Alludo districts, only 20% strongly agreed that they were satisfied with their jobs with another 48% saying they agreed. (34% strongly agreed in the districts that have partnered with Alludo.)
  • Fully one-third of teachers are at risk of leaving their jobs due to a lack of satisfaction and happiness.
  • One in four teachers do not feel that they matter, meaning that they don’t feel valued and appreciated for the work they do.

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There’s no denying that there’s a lack of teacher happiness and job satisfaction. Considering that there is a worsening teacher shortage in the United States, these statistics point to the importance of ensuring that teachers are happy, supported, and satisfied.

What Affects Teacher Job Satisfaction? (and 10 Strategies to Boost Teacher Happiness)

There are multiple factors that can impact teacher satisfaction and happiness. Here are ten ways to boost teacher happiness through professional development. We’ve broken them down into three categories.

Teacher Workload and Compensation

In our Teacher Happiness Report, we surveyed teachers in districts about their satisfaction. High workloads and low compensation were two of the key factors, with relevant PD coming in a close third.

#1: Reduce Teacher Workload

The number one complaint that teachers have is that their workloads are too high. On average, teachers work more hours outside the classroom than they do with students. Everything from grading student papers to PD can add to their workload.

A well-designed PD system, particularly one that is online and asynchronous, can decrease teacher workload by eliminating travel time to and from PD. Our Alludo learning platform is based on microlearning activities that can be completed quickly and don’t substantially add to teacher workloads.

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#2: Provide Additional Compensation

Low compensation was another key complaint of teachers, who often feel that they work long hours in return for compensation that isn’t adequate.

PD can’t directly add to teacher salaries but it can increase educator compensation. The Alludo platform uses gamification to provide teachers with badges and concrete prizes to reward them for their work. While each school district chooses the prizes that teachers can earn, many of them are in the form of gift cards that teachers can use.

#3: Make PD Relevant to What Teachers Do

A lack of relevant PD can also be a contributing factor to teacher unhappiness and dissatisfaction. PD feels like more of a burden when there’s no direct connection to teachers’ time in the classroom.

Making professional development relevant – including giving teachers a choice in what they learn – can help to make it feel less burdensome while giving teachers some agency in what and how they learn.

School Environment and Support

School environmental conditions play an important role in teacher happiness. Our next ways to boost teacher happiness are related to the environment in your school and school district.

#4: Administrative Support & Leadership

In any workplace, leadership has the potential to impact employee happiness – and employee support is the same. School leaders are responsible for creating a positive and supportive workplace. School administrators and principals, as well as district leadership, set the tone for the environment in which teachers work.

You can improve environmental conditions in your district with professional development by supporting teachers in their individual goals while also creating and pursuing school goals and district initiatives. When teachers feel supported they are far more likely to be enthusiastic about their jobs.

#5: Student Behavior & School Atmosphere

Student behavior can also set the tone for the atmosphere in any classroom or school. Teachers may struggle to manage students’ behavior and encourage them to behave in a way that’s appropriate and in accordance with school rules.

Social emotional learning (SEL) and multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) are useful topics for any professional development program. They help teachers understand students’ emotional struggles, encouraging them to meet students where they are. At the same time, they provide a concrete framework for teachers to follow in correcting student behavior. Both of these things contribute to a positive school climate.

Teacher Happiness Report

#6: Teacher Autonomy

Teachers operate within a framework that’s determined by school administrators and school districts, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need and deserve some autonomy in the way they do their jobs. In fact, restricting teachers’ autonomy can contribute to negative emotions.

One way that school districts can provide teachers with autonomy within a PD framework is to give teacher-learners the choice to select areas of study and the freedom to try new things in the classroom. At Alludo, we believe that giving teachers a choice and a voice in what they learn and how they learn it is one of the best ways to boost teacher happiness.

Teacher Needs and Resources

The final category where school districts can boost teacher happiness is by providing for teachers’ needs and giving them necessary resources.

#7: Ask Teachers What They Need and Provide Resources

All teachers need resources to help them connect with their students. With traditional PD, resources are typically both limited and expensive.

With online asynchronous PD, teachers can access course materials and resources at any time, giving them the tools and motivation they need to engage their students and get to the best possible student outcomes.

#8: Improve and Offer Mentorship Opportunities

We’ve already talked about how a lack of teacher support from administrators can negatively impact teacher happiness. The same is true of peer support.

The right PD system can improve and encourage mentor/mentee relationships. At Alludo, we’ve recently added message boards to encourage teacher-learners to collaborate with one another, giving and receiving support and feedback to help them excel at their jobs.

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#9: Give Teachers a Voice

Traditional PD is something that teachers don’t choose. It’s required of them and often demands attendance at classes that don’t feel relevant or important to teachers’ time in the classroom.

With online asynchronous PD, it’s easy to give teachers a choice and a voice in what they learn and how they learn it. Having agency over PD is something we know can increase teacher happiness and satisfaction.

#10: Respect Teachers’ Time

When teachers need to spend their valuable time traveling to and from professional development, it can feel like a burden to them. It takes away from their already-limited time with their families and friends and can contribute to unhappiness.

Online asynchronous training respects teachers’ time by allowing them to complete professional development requirements on a schedule that is convenient to them. Microlearning activities take only a few minutes to complete, giving teachers the opportunity to complete them between classes or on brief breaks.

Alludo’s Take

Alludo works with school districts across the United States to provide a dynamic and engaging learning environment that boosts teacher happiness

  • Teachers are fueled by passion. We believe that teachers’ passion can fizzle when they’re not supported with relevant PD. That’s why we’ve built teacher voice and choice into our platform and provided teachers with ongoing encouragement in the form of badges and rewards.
  • Teachers want to have a positive impact on their students. We have a huge collection of PD microlearning activities that allow teachers to choose the topics that are most relevant to their time in the classroom.

We have found that teachers in Alludo districts have higher levels of job satisfaction and happiness than teachers in districts that aren’t yet partnered with us.

Jurupa Case Study

Boost Teacher Happiness with Learner-Centered Professional Development

There’s a direct correlation between teacher happiness and teacher retention. With the teacher shortage worsening, school districts must prioritize teacher happiness. The ten ideas we’ve included here can help you give teachers what they need.

Are you seeking a new PD system to boost teacher happiness in your district? Alludo can help! Click here now to schedule a demo of our platform.