As schools attempt to return to a version of their pre-pandemic normal, many principals are wondering what the additional responsibility for reversing learning loss will do to their already stressed-out teachers.

Even before COVID, school leaders had to address the causes of burnout that have led many educators to leave the profession. While pay, workload and policies are clearly important, teachers often say a major factor in their decision to quit — or not — was the presence and effectiveness of their principal.

The stripped-down survival mode that took hold during the pandemic is not best practice, nor does it serve students. As schools reimplement pre-COVID practices, such as a return to professional development days and learning communities, strategic initiatives that were put on pause when buildings were closed, analysis of student data and so on, how can leaders recalibrate educators’ expectations and overcome resistance?

They can start by checking in with themselves, the people in their community and their priorities.

The best place to start is with self, making sure you are no longer operating from a survival state. Leaders in survival states find themselves focusing the bulk of their time on immediate or day-to-day situations, and often feel wired and tired. One strategy is to take an inventory of your calendar for the last two weeks. What have you been spending your time on? What has not been done, and why? Making intentional decisions about how time is spent moves a leader from being reactive to responsive. Try filtering requests of your time through a matrix to determine how you want to handle each item. Those that are urgent get done immediately. Items that are important but not urgent get scheduled and completed in a timely manner. Items that are not important can be delegated. The rest can be deleted. Using a filter can help prioritize not only the work, but the demands principals make on their teachers’ time.

Read the full article about easing teacher stress by Alyssa Gallagher and Tara O’Brien at The 74.