Admin support will make our break your job as a high school science teacher. More than any other job in K-12 education, high school teachers have the MOST additional responsibilities on their plate. This is in addition to lesson planning, grading, prepping labs, and actually, you know, teaching. Put the pressure of parents on secondary teachers to prepare their students for college, and the overwhelm can feel insurmountable at times.
If any of the above resonates with you, I am going to venture to guess that you need HELP. I know I did when I was balancing 5 preps on top of running student council, the school mentoring program, and planning prom (all while walking through the adoption process in my personal life. Personal life?? Teachers have personal lives???? Most people forget that about us, don’t they? 🤪)
Mind you, this was also all while I was teaching at a small private school with 0 science budget. So asking for funding for curriculum or lab equipment wasn’t an option. All of that to say, if you are in a similar situation, I 100% get where you are coming from. Know that you are not alone, and all hope is not lost!
There are still a LOT of ways your administration can support you despite all of the responsibilities they have given you. I am going to share 5 types of admin support I received at different times in my teaching career that required 0 money from my admin – and made all of the difference in helping me manage all that was on my plate.
Admin Support #1: Take away one of your preps.
I know, I know, this one sounds insane. But figured I’d start with a big ASK that IS doable. Given the time of year, you can always ask them to take away one of your preps. When I was told to take on AP Biology, this is one of the first things I asked them to do. If I was expected to take on a college-level course, at the very least they could take away one of my other 4 preps.
Did they say yes? No, no they did not 😂. BUT IT DOES NOT HURT TO ASK. What is the worst that can happen? THEY SAY NO. Then you are no worse than when you started! Best case scenario, they say yes!!
If they do say no, you have now warmed them up, and your next ask for admin support won’t seem as big or impossible.
Admin Support #2: Give you an extra planning period.
If you have 3 or more preps and only one 45-50 min planning period a day to prep, that is a very unreasonable expectation for you to manage. Make sure your admin is aware that as a science teacher, you have to prep and clean up labs for all of your classes in addition to everything else every teacher does. That’s a HUGE extra responsibility on your plate that no other subject area has.
Can you imagine how much you could get done if you had two planning periods a day?! At the very least, they can set you up to have your planning period back up to lunch (or start after lunch) so you can get some extra time that way. That’s a SIMPLE way to provide more planning time logistically if they can’t sacrifice an entire extra period for you.
Admin Support #3: Take away an extra duty you’ve been assigned.
Okay okay, so maybe it is midyear and they just can’t do anything about your teaching schedule. I get it. But they ABSOLUTELY can take an extra duty off of your plate. Lunch duty, detention supervision, hallway monitoring, ticket sales at sporting events, X club or Y extracurricular – any and ALL of those things could be taken on by someone else – potentially even a parent or an admin.
You should feel 0% bad about asking them to remove any (or all #dreambig) of those types of responsibilities from your plate. Can the English teacher with two courses prep your AP lab? No, but they can take an extra 30-minute hall duty from you (and hey maybe it will help them grade all those papers they have to grade and you are really doing them a favor 🤪 )
Bottom line is that your admin has allowed too much to be on your plate, and it is their responsibility (if they want to keep you and not interview for a replacement) to keep you mentally healthy and sane enough to stay. This is a VERY small ask in terms of admin support, and I have always gotten help in this area when I’ve asked. But the BEST thing admin has ever done to support me is next…
Admin Support #4: Give you a teacher’s aide (T.A.).
I cannot tell you enough how much having a T.A. helped with my workload – and best of all, it is 100% free and requires ZERO rearranging of responsibilities (like the first 3 suggestions do). There is truly no reason your admin should say no to this request. Maybe it is mid-year and they can’t flesh out a FULL ON T.A. program over winter break, but they can most likely find a student with a study hall or SOMETHING to help in the meantime for community service hours until an official program can be put into place.
There are so many things a student T.A. can take off or your plate, like:
- Making copies
- Setting up labs
- Cleaning up labs
- Updating my class website – where I wrote a post every day tracking our agenda for parents and absent students
- Testing out labs and activities to use in class – if there weren’t safety concerns, of course!
- Digitizing resources – I can humbly say that my students know 23948230948234x more about technology than I do. I guarantee they could digitize a resource for me in 1/10th of the time it would take me!!
- Organizing the classroom and sorting through supplies
- Taking inventory of the chemical supply room
- Helping to provide support for students during class – this works if the T.A. is strong in the subject material, like when I had an old AP Bio student as a T.A. during my Biology 1 class
To read all about the benefits of having a T.A. and how to set up a program at your high school, check out this blog post here.
Admin Support #5: Provide professional development that you ACTUALLY want.
Last but not least, admin support can come in the form of professional development that you actually want. Every single school, no matter if you are public or not, does SOME sort of professional development. Private schools do it mainly to maintain accreditation, and public schools do it because they are required to provide continuing education.
Because of this, even if your school SAYS they have no money, they DO have SOME sort of allotment for professional development for teachers. AT THE VERY LEAST to support you they can provide PD that is actually meaningful and helpful. This can require funding (like sending you to APSI if you are teaching AP – something I think should be an absolute requirement!!) but they don’t have to. Your school can bring in members of the community or other teachers to teach on topics they excel at.
I’ve been to a professional development where the math department chair taught us better ways to get our students to think computationally and show their work for math-based problems that REALLY helped. I’ve been to another where an English teacher taught us how to better teach our students to be scientific writers AND how to grade lab reports and other written assignments more efficiently. I’ve personally led a schoolwide professional development on how to use the first 5 minutes of class the most productively through the use of what I call Prime Times®️.
All of these were FREE for our admin to provide to our staff and actually helpful because they were SPECIFIC, PRACTICAL, and ACTIONABLE. Yours can provide the same!
I hope this gives you some ideas for how you can ask your admin to support you. Of course, you can always ask them to buy you curriculum, which I think is a HUGE burden lifted off a teacher’s plate. But if they say no, you can present these other ways they can help you.
There is no reason you should be expected to teach 3 or more preps AND be in charge of coaching a sport or major club without some sort of additional admin support. They can, and should, help you! Especially if you are giving them so many options to do so.
If you are bold enough to reach out for admin support and receive any of these options, I would LOVE to hear how it went and how it is helping you manage your workload! Reach out and tell me your story here.