Out for a run, I was listening intently to an episode of Work Life with Adam Grant, Burnout Is Everyone’s Problem. Burnout is a topic that doesn’t get enough attention and has, as a school leader and purpose-driven educator, always been a concern of mine. Having fought it both as a teacher and administrator and knowing how many great educators we lose to it every year, I try really hard to create and nurture a culture that helps combat this highly pervasive problem.
This episode offers lots of gold (more to come on this later) during any season, but it’s value is especially high while we’re still fighting our way through a global pandemic. The three methods to help fight burnout, demand, control and support, are all applicable to the world of education and my mind was churning while I listened to how we can leverage giving more control.
You know what it’s like to feel that your tasks are spinning out of your control. And you can find small but meaningful ways to gain more control over your work, or to give that control to your employees.Adam Grant
How could I offer more control to our team? I began rolling around an idea that I felt could help, even if just a bit, with the overwhelming demands of our job.
In a typical year, we meet face-to-face as an entire team monthly for one hour after school. We’ve coined these meetings IOUs (Information leads to Ownership and Understanding) and put a premium on these as times to collaborate and learn together. In other words, we are intentional about not wasting these opportunities on things that can be sent in an email.
During a year when our time and energy are at a premium, this seemed even more essential. So I tossed an idea out to our PD Task Group, a team of leaders passionate about planning professional development for our school. What I proposed, and what they took off with, was our very own “IOU Remix,” a way for us to continue to learn together as a group (this is necessary for any great team) while also providing choice, and control, over content and our calendars.
Here is the premise: First, the PD task group sought feedback on PD needs and wants and then enlisted fellow staff members to help lead sessions around these options. The task group decided to mix in some podcast options since we’ve done these in the past with positive feedback. A choice board would then be created and sent out at the beginning of the month, full of one “must do” and other “can do” options, all mini chunks of varied learning opportunities. At the end of the month, a Google form would be sent out to collect participation and quick reflections on the learning.
Our TM IOU Remix was created from a Slidesmania template (note: this is a FREE resource chocked full of nifty templates great for education.) Slidesmania’s quote on their choice board site, “Giving students choice is giving them voice,” is also true for educators. Giving anyone choice is giving them voice. And giving voice is giving control.
Throughout the month, on any given morning or afternoon, TM Leaders can be seen learning and leading together while gaining a bit of control over their time. Not only has initial feedback been overwhelmingly positive, it is pretty darn cool to see all of these leaders sharing their genius in a courageous and generous way. And that’s what I would call a win-win!
How do you offer more control or help alleviate burnout for those you serve? Together we are brilliant, so I’d love to connect! Tweet and tag me (@me1odystacy) or feel free to start a conversation by commenting below.