Why Passion Isn’t Enough in the “New Normal”

The world of education is dynamic and ever-changing. Things are bound to be at least a little different from one year to the next—new best practices to try, curriculum changes to implement, tools and technologies to enhance learning, etc. While change is inevitable, and many teachers understand that some adaptability and resilience are needed to keep up, we are currently in a unique situation.

The past couple of decades have brought innovative new technologies into classrooms across the country. Technology has provided immense value, from the accommodation of online or hybrid classroom experiences to interactive and collaborative tools to new ways of accommodating different learning styles to ensure that every student can be reached.

Over the past couple of years, then, these technologies have become essential, as the pandemic has closed school’s physical doors and jettisoned students and teachers alike into digital environments like Zoom. Many, many teachers who had been keeping up with the pace of change found themselves flustered when the technology went from being a classroom enhancement to being the classroom.

While schools are opening the doors back up, things will never entirely be the same as they were. While returning to face-to-face instruction might sound like “getting back to normal,” it’s more accurate to consider it as stepping into the “new normal.”

COVID-19’s implications for education further underscore the importance of accessible, technology-enhanced lesson planning and engagement. Today, as you’re reading this, school leaders are putting their heads together, trying to figure out how to solve the teacher shortage. They know that to succeed in this new normal, teachers need a whole lot of passion. Is that enough, though?

Why Passion’s Not Enough

Passion is essential for educators—full stop. For 2022 and beyond, the reality is that passion just isn’t enough. Teachers’ passion is what inspires them to get into teaching in the first place, and it’s what makes them so game to adapt their methods to whatever life throws at them.

These are unique times, however. Even outside of adapting instruction to digital learning, some genuine obstacles test teachers’ passion. 

In any job in any industry, employees need to feel supported and empowered by their employer—especially amid significant changes to how they go about their work. Education is no different. 

These factors sadly don’t get as much attention as things like cutting-edge technologies or a global pandemic, but they are crises all the same. Some of the specific hurdles that prevent even the most passionate teachers from delivering quality instruction:

• Ineffective collection and/or use of student data
• Ineffective supplemental learning supports
• Difficulty hiring and retaining teachers
• Inconsistent instruction among classes
• Under-utilization of technology

The items listed above may not sound like a big deal, but that’s because we just expect teachers to work harder and longer to craft and deliver effective instruction. These things add up and ultimately drive teachers out of the business. Even with passion, It’s hard to do any job without the right tools and support—simple as that.

At XR Technologies, our focus is on solving the challenging problems in education, like those listed above—both in and out of the classroom. You can learn more about our mission here.

What Teachers Need, Moving Forward

What makes a good teacher? Taking all of this into account, teachers in 2022 and beyond need to be:

Emotionally Intelligent/Resilient

The reality is, without “the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict,” a teacher is going to have a hard, hard time. Teaching is tough. It always has been, and probably always will be. Resilience is one especially relevant component of emotional intelligence—it’s what gets a teacher through the most challenging days.

Community Builders & Communicators

Whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, education benefits from a sense of community. Not strangers on a screen, but a community of learners adapting to the new normal of communication and community. Fostering collaboration through some of the latest technologies provides exciting opportunities for teachers and students to share ideas and learn together.

Trustworthy & Relatable

Teachers need to be able to gain students’ trust in both face-to-face and virtual/digital environments. They need to be able to make connections between the content and their students’ lives—they have to believe a teacher when they say what they’re learning matters. Teachers need to be able to connect with students, whether they’re conducting a 1:1 in the classroom or facing a Zoom screen full of faces.

Adaptable

Resistance to new technologies and modern developments is futile. Rather than bemoaning technology, great teachers are the ones who roll with the punches, motivated to find the best ways to reach their students.

 

However, schools can’t just send out the bat signal and find quality teaching candidates who are both passionate and up for confronting any and all challenges they encounter. 

So where does that leave schools—other than potentially short on teachers? To attract and retain high-quality teachers and keep them feeling both fulfilled and supported in their role, schools need to rethink their application processes and invest in professional development opportunities. Without the proper support, teachers can feel abandoned—leading them to either disengage or burn out.

Attracting and Retaining Teachers in the “New Normal”

The importance of hiring good teachers is as vital now as ever. So, let’s take a look at how schools can ensure they’re hiring and retaining teachers.

Best practices for recruiting teachers who are game for the challenges of the “new normal” include:

• Starting the search early
• Building a professional community
• Addressing the causes of teacher burnout
• Applying rigorous, selective criteria to candidates

Once new teachers are onboarded, it becomes crucial to retain them. As mentioned earlier, teachers (like any professionals) need to feel empowered and supported. This is accomplished through plentiful, effective professional development opportunities. Some examples of what this might look like include:

• Conferences
• Topical seminars and lectures
• Educational theory courses
• Subject matter courses
• Workshops

There are two main things to consider when choosing good professional development topics for teachers, the topic itself and the delivery method. Whatever the topic, make sure that it is specific, actionable, and relevant.

Specific: Be very specific about what teachers will learn and what they should be able to get out of the activity. We don’t have to remind you how short attention spans are—you don’t have to cover everything in one massive professional development event. You're better off at the other end of the spectrum, microlearning, which describes more bite-sized professional development with clear milestones.

Actionable: Teachers have so much on their plates already, so the last thing they need is to lose their prep period engaging with content that’s not something they can easily apply. While the educational theory is wildly interesting (to some of us, at least), it can feel like a waste of time if there’s no actionable value.

Relevant: Finally, professional development must have a strong WIIFM, or “What’s in it for me?” Any teacher who has been in the business for a year or two has sat through professional development events that have felt irrelevant, disconnected from the classroom experience. 

XR Technologies: Where Passion Meets Innovation

Hopefully, this content has helped illuminate how schools can continue to adapt to the changing landscape of education by effectively supporting teachers and nurturing their passion—not just relying on passion to be enough. At XR Technologies, we believe in a future where all students have equitable access to a personalized education that provides them with what they need—when, where, and how they need to learn best. 

We know filling teaching vacancies is challenging, whether we’re talking about math or physical education. That’s why we’re proud to research, test, and incubate disruptive concepts in education.

To learn more about our all-in-one process as a service for schools—providing instruction, data, software, curriculum, talent, and secondary support—can change the game, head on over to our website to check it out!

Leave a Comment