How to Solve K-12 Staffing Challenges with Mitel Unified Communications Solutions

4 min read

Lisa Finholm | May 01, 2023

K-12 school districts are more than educational institutions. They are also creators of communities. Each school connects its surrounding neighborhoods. And when individual schools combine to become a single, unified school district, they join an entire town or city.

In addition to helping students learn, unified school districts help children and parents develop relationships and a sense of identity — they become part of something bigger. The mission to build that strong community experience unites every member of a school district’s staff: teachers, office and service staff, superintendents, administrators, and principals.

Creating strong communities is another reason the pandemic profoundly affected K-12 schools worldwide. Not only did it create significant obstacles to learning, but it also fractured connected school communities, creating isolation and a sense of loss.

young child wearing a mask in school

Overcoming K-12’s Biggest Challenges

Today students and teachers are back in the classroom, and school districts are tackling the challenges left in the pandemic’s wake. While faculty loss is a well-known problem, school districts are experiencing staff shortages. Sixty percent of principals surveyed said they’re struggling to fill non-teaching positions. Students continue to work with learning loss and low morale. Approximately half of the students reported feeling less motivated in class and experiencing lower morale. At the same time, their teachers estimate that more than 80% of their pupils were less motivated and had lower confidence. On top of it all, parents, students, and staff are also increasingly concerned about school safety.

But there is good news. Many K-12 school districts have access to communications and collaboration solutions they didn’t have a few years ago, and they are using those tools to restore school communities and accomplish three critical goals:

  1. Improving the working experience to bridge school staff resource gaps and support new working methods.
  2. Improving the teaching experience to empower faculty and close learning gaps.
  3. Improving school district-wide safety and implementing timely, ongoing communications to keep everyone informed and connected.

This is the first in a blog series focusing on how school districts use Mitel’s unified communications solutions to accomplish each goal.

school teacher in empty classroom

Unifying School Staff

Over the last three years, the school workplace has changed considerably. Despite efforts to retain staff and hire new teachers, some 300,000 public school teachers and other staff left the field between February 2020 and May 2022, a nearly 3% drop in that workforce. Unfortunately, the problem was growing worse.

The National Education Association reported that 55% of educators considered leaving the profession earlier than planned. The top issue facing educators was burnout, with 67% reporting it as very serious and 90% saying it was very serious or somewhat serious. A Gallup poll found that K-12 teachers reported the highest burnout rate of all US professions, with more than four out of every 10 teachers noting that they feel burned out “always” or “very often” at work.

To add complexity to staffing shortages, many returning school employees who appreciated the flexibility of working remotely sought hybrid work arrangements.

School administrators now face a double workforce challenge — operating efficiently despite staff shortages while adapting to remote or hybrid work preferences.

Mitel offers an answer with the breadth of communications and collaboration solutions K-12 districts need to support their diverse staff, all in a seamless solution from a single provider. Mitel solutions allow precious staffing resources to work differently, functioning more efficiently and agilely to alleviate shortages, connect remote employees, and allow everyone to work smarter, not harder.

Exceptional Voice Quality Across Every Communications Platform

Most communications still rely on voice. It’s how we communicate in person and on the phone, and it plays a crucial role in video communications. Because voice is essential across communications methods, a high-quality voice experience must be the cornerstone of a school district’s communications environment.

Mitel’s MiVoice Business solution acts as a powerful and flexible communications foundation. More than 100,000 MiVoice Business systems worldwide provide the high-definition, rich audio foundation for a full suite of call center, mobility, and collaboration applications.

young student and parent talking to teacher on laptop

Staff and Parents Can Communicate Their Way

School employees and parents need various communication options to choose how best to collaborate and inform. MiVoice Business supports multiple collaboration and communication options to connect the entire school community.

The MiCollab application enables communications among school employees located across the district. School staff can choose how they should be reached — voice, email, and chat – depending on the time of day and current activity. Control routing and presence let staff see which co-workers are available and when so they can communicate when needed from anywhere.

The MiVoice Business solution also integrates with interactive voice recording systems (IVRs) and other applications to improve convenience for parents and staff productivity. Busy parents can digitally communicate anytime with their school through self-service apps, letting them track attendance, report absences, and leave messages for faculty from their laptops, tablets, or mobile phones.

school janitor sweeping school floor

Keep Mobile Staff Accessible, Productive, and Informed

School administrators, principals, service, and facilities staff often move from one school campus location to another. As they travel, situations can arise, and priorities can change that require they be immediately notified.

A diverse school staff uses a wide range of communications devices, including headsets connected to a PC or Mac, a front desk or conference room phone, a specialized mobile device the employee carries across a campus, or analog devices. Every instrument must work with the school’s communications and collaboration system. MiVoice Business is designed to support this diversity and ensures a high-quality voice experience regardless of what device a staff member is using. If a problem requires conversations with more than one person to resolve, MiVoice Business’ sophisticated call control capabilities transparently facilitate call forwarding from the first employee touch point to as many as it takes to solve an issue.

Keeping staff informed as priorities shift helps school administrators be omnipresent and responsive. According to Melissa Tebbenkamp, Director of Instructional Technology at Raytown Quality Schools, “One of the big benefits of Mitel we enjoy in our district is the MiCollab soft client that can go on our mobile devices. With it, our principals and administrators can stay connected to their offices even when they’re not there.”

teacher on phone

Enable an Agile, Distributed Workforce

When a school office needs more staff to meet an increase in inbound or outbound communications, MiContact Center allows an extended, distributed team to rise to the occasion. Leveraging the MiVoice Business platform, staff located at another office in the district or working remotely can instantly augment the staff at another school. With the click of a mouse, a staff member can assume the role of a school contact center agent to keep information flowing and minimize wait times. Once the peak need is over, employees can efficiently work for another office or return to their traditional roles regardless of where they are working from.

Diverse elementary school classroom

Unifying a Diverse and Distributed School Community with Mitel

Not long ago, every school in a K-12 district was expected to operate independently, with all school staff reporting in person. That vision changes as school districts adapt to new challenges and opportunities. The goal is to optimize the district’s performance by creating an extended, connected, collaborative employee community.

School districts worldwide are leveraging Mitel technology to transform the K-12 work experience and accomplish that goal. Mitel provides school staff the communications options they need to save time, instantly collaborate, stay informed, and work smarter. Mitel solutions free employees from being confined by a physical school boundary, allowing staff to be reallocated in an agile, fluid response to changing demand no matter the place. This approach supports hybrid working arrangements, reduces stress, and creates a sense of district-wide teamwork that can help attract new workers and retain existing staff.

Mitel helps school districts restore their staff’s sense of community and create a great workplace. Contact a Mitel partner today to unify your school community with leading communications and collaboration solutions.

Categories: Industries, Product News

Lisa FinholmProduct Marketing Manager

Lisa has over 13 years of experience in technology marketing. Most recently, Lisa has held corporate, channel, and product marketing roles within the communications industry. Today, Lisa focuses on vertical markets to help customers achieve the best technology solutions for their needs. Lisa also loves dogs and will go insane without time spent outdoors.

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