According to Teachers
In many surveys, school leadership is one of most important factors teachers cite when trying to build a positive school culture. Good school leadership partners with teachers to build teams that are focused on students.
ESGI and ThinkFives surveyed hundreds of teachers to determine the best ways administrators can help teachers. These are the direct quotes from teachers. Administrators, are you listening?
Definition (verb): to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence; to promote, advance, or foster.
The 5th most recommended way administrators can support teachers is to encourage. Everyone loves encouragement and our teachers cited a number of ways good administrators can encourage their educators.
- “Be positive and create an environment of mutual support, not fear.”
- “Daily Mental Health check-ins.”
- “Provide encouragement as well as feedback.”
- “Encourage their strengths and tell them they are appreciated.”
- “Find the positives, help improve when needed, encourage.”
Trust and Don’t Micromanage
Definition (verb): to rely upon or place confidence in someone or something; to have confidence; hope.
There are many teachers with 5 or more years of experience. As a matter of fact, that is characteristic of most. Then why don’t administrators trust teachers? Teachers are closest to the students and the parents. Collaborate don’t micromanagers is what we heard.
- “Allow a teacher to make professional decisions.”
- “Include teachers in the decision-making process when possible.”
- “Giving autonomy with lesson planning and culture of the classroom.”
- “Have Common Sense. Be a teacher before being principal.”
- “I think of the principal as a conductor of an orchestra. They need to ensure fidelity to core programs and keep teachers on the same page.”
Definition (verb): to bear or hold up; to undergo or endure, especially with patience.
It may be a more generic suggestion but supporting teachers ranked third on our list. Why is that? Probably because some administrations are perceived as making decisions that make the job of teaching harder than easier. Good administrators are there for their teachers.
- “Be a positive force and a powerful advocate.”
- “Be kind, communicate with us, and be open.”
- “Provide mental health support and understanding.”
- “Get to know all teachers and their teaching styles.”
- “Don’t cause burnout to effective teachers. Give them a break once in a while.”
Have Our Backs
Definition (verb): to defend or guard from attack, loss, annoyance, insult; cover or shield from injury or danger.
Teaching is not a bed of roses – although it is pretty most of the time despite some thorny issues. When issues arise – from parents, students or the board – teachers would like to know that their principal has their back.
- “Advocate for fair treatment and adequate preparation, including but not limited to supplies and fair pay.”
- “Backing them up with their professional opinions in regards to family.”
- “Be understanding with current realities. Stands up for teachers with the center office (admin) to keep them in reality and what is actually achievable. Provide constructive criticism and suggest useful PD.”
- “Support teachers when parent issues arise.”
- “Stand behind them when needed and in the trenches with them daily.”
Definition (verb): to attend closely for the purpose of hearing; to pay attention; heed.
There is an old saying that God gave us one mouth and two ears so that we can spend twice as much time listening. Good administrators have one door policies and are good listeners. Sometimes all a teacher needs is a good ear after a tough day.
- “Know what’s going on in my classroom.”
- “Learn what is developmentally appropriate for young learners!”
- “Listen – especially if they are less familiar with the grade level a teacher teaches.”
- “Listen, then support what needs to be done for the child”
- “Listen to our reasoning for what we do and support it.”
What do you think an administrator should do to better support teachers?