- Since the beginning of the school year, several school districts have faced teacher strikes and more may be on horizon, placing principals in the difficult position of being torn between supporting their teachers and maintaining educational services at their schools. Therefore, it's important for districts need to have a plan in place that gives school leaders clear direction if a strike happens, Education Week reports.
- The first decision districts face is whether to close schools when teachers are striking — schools can struggle to stay on track with curriculum during a strike, but many students might also be left without regular meals and supervision if schools are closed. If schools remain open, transparency about the reason for the decision is key.
- It's also important for district leaders to consider all possible scenarios in strike plans, remain flexible in case unexpected events occur, be prepared to pay principals for the extra work they'll face before and during a strike, give principals clear direction about what information they can convey to parents, and ensure principals are kept in the loop about any progress made.
Last year went down as the “Year of the Teacher Strikes” in the minds of many, and strikes have shifted to the local level so far this year. Already several school districts have faced strikes, and more are preparing for potential strikes in the future. While teacher pay remains at the forefront of the reasons for strikes, teachers are also voicing strong opinions about what they say students need in the classroom — such as lower class sizes, counselors and nurses. As many states are now healing from the recession of the last decade, teachers are hoping their voices will be heard by state legislatures as well.
Strikes place district and school leaders in a tenuous position. While they often support the goals of the strike, principals are also under intense pressure to continue to meet the needs of students that do attend school during a strike. During the strike in Los Angeles, however, principals expressed feeling overwhelmed and asked the district to consider closing schools.
Strikes can stir up feelings of contention that may take months or years to heal. While strong principal-staff relationships can make the healing easier, actions by teachers or comments by administrators during the strike can take a toll on those relationships. Students and their families watch how teachers and administrators handle these issues during a work stoppage. The lessons students learn include how their role models truly handle themselves in times of stress — whether that lesson is positive or negative.