How Effective Teachers Communicate Their Needs to Their Principal

If you have been following my work, you know I spent 7 years a K-12 teacher and 7 years as a university professor, eventually becoming the dean of a school of education. As a teacher, I was passionate about helping students reach their academic potential and become productive citizens. As a professor and education dean, I was devoted to developing the next generation of teachers and education administrators. For the last two and a half years, I have been an education entrepreneur, launching an education company, Lynch Educational Consulting, which also manages the following web properties: The EdvocateThe Tech Edvocate, and Edupedia.

However, I often miss being in the classroom, and when I do, I usually channel this energy in an article, resource, or project that will benefit educators everywhere. This time I decided to create a series of case studies that are meant to help pre-service teachers get a glimpse into the problems and issues that they will encounter in the field. These case studies will also give them a chance to reflect on how they can use each scenario to inform their own practice. Let’s get started.

Teaching is a demanding career path that has a high turnover rate. This is due to the overwhelming workload and accompanying stress. If you start to feel overwhelmed, what should you do? To give you an idea of how effective teachers proactively communicate their needs to avoid burnout, read the case study below, entitled “Meredith, The Special Education Teacher.” Afterward, reflect on the questions below, using your thoughts to shape your own practice.

  1. What did Meredith like and dislike about her school and job? The students are living in the moment, but are also preparing for the future. How?
  2. If you were the principal, how would you have resolved Meredith’s situation if the school had not received special funding?
  3. What other changes could the school have made to improve the quality of Meredith’s teaching?

Meredith, The Special Education Teacher

Meredith is a fourth-grade teacher. Unlike many other fourth-grade teachers, she is responsible for a group of nine students with learning disabilities. Meredith finds her job as a special education teacher interesting and rewarding but also physically and emotionally taxing.

Sometimes Meredith has several meetings with parents and administrators immediately after the school day that last for several hours. The amount of pressure and work associated with her job has Meredith terribly confused. She loves working with the children but finds that the number of hours she puts toward work interferes with her ability to build an interesting personal life outside of the job.

Meredith asked her principal if he could either reduce the number of students in her class or provide her with a paraprofessional, to reduce the work-related stress she was feeling. Fortunately for Meredith, the school received extra funding from the state that was designated for children with disabilities. As a result, the principal was able to reduce her class size. In addition, Meredith received additional support from newly employed experts at the school, as well as additional assistive equipment.

With these new tools and support in place, she rediscovered her love of teaching. Meredith now focuses on five or six students per school year. Her smaller class size has given her more time to develop accommodating lesson plans and to give each student more attention. She has been very successful with her students, and this has led to a great deal of personal satisfaction.

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