Revitalizing Educators using RENEW (Revitalizing Educators through a New Experience of Work)
Teachers have the capacity to change lives. They can change the academic trajectory of a young person, or inspire a student to continue. Nothing is sadder than a once vigorous teacher who loses the desire to transform lives in the classroom. It is estimated up to 30% of teachers burnout from the profession, but remain in the classroom, either too close to retirement or unprepared for other work. As the nation faces an ongoing teacher shortage, it is frustrating to fund these experienced teachers who should be top-performers.
If these teachers could find a way to renew their passion for their subject, or their enthusiasm for teaching, it might make all the difference in the classroom.
This problem of practice has vexed me for many years: How can veteran teachers sustain their enthusiasm and engagement for the profession, especially when working at challenging urban schools? The field of positive psychology holds some promise for professional renewal.
Using the Job-Demands Resource model, an increase in personal resources, such as optimism, hope or self-efficacy, and job resources such as collegiality, should allow teachers to sustain their engagement no matter how challenging the work situation. I developed an eight-session professional development series using collegial conversation and positive psychology exercises to help teachers in a challenging work situation build these assets. To determine the effectiveness of this intervention, I measured work engagement, self-efficacy, well-being and analyzed the process of each session.
The results from this study were subtle and mixed. Obviously personal change in positive affect is individualized, but the results of the positive psychology exercises as a method to support urban teachers shows promise. Future investigations of this area may show this is a simple, low-cost intervention that supports the social-emotional development of teachers and provides enough support to increase teacher retention.