“We sink, we swim, we rise, we fall- We meet our fate together”. These words from the 1989 Morgan Freeman starrer Lean on Me aptly sum up the relationship that school principals need to have with their teachers.
School leadership and support is one of the key factors that decide whether a teacher keeps going or leaves. Teachers feel confident to work under school principals who support them, respect them, and give them autonomy. The odds of becoming an even better and successful teacher are really high with a great leadership.
Adopt an open-door policy
Great school leaders do not function as unreachable ‘bosses’ but as principal teachers who are just instructing side by side with the teachers. Under an effective school principal, leadership passes through the whole teaching structure instead of staying concentrated in one place. What follows is the creation of a collaborative environment.
This is an immense support to the teachers because it is an encouragement to them. It is like telling them, “We value your teaching strategies. You are free to bring your successful strategies, ideas to the table, and even share your problems.” This way, teachers do not feel alone and overburdened with work.
Help amplify teachers’ voices
Thanks to social media, people who might not have reached out to a large audience before have done so. Teachers are the people who we can listen to, and theirs is the voice that should be amplified.
As a school leader, creating Facebook groups will help the teachers to form a close-knit community where they can share their experiences, success stories, strategies, and ideas.
Having a school Twitter hashtag is a great way to augment teachers’ voices. Twitter lets teachers have a global reach, and they can connect and collaborate with similar professionals from around the world.
This figure from Kathy Schröck’s Guide to Everything shows some ways in which teachers could use Twitter in their classrooms and for their professional growth
Encourage sharing hobbies & interests
Giving teachers an opportunity to explore and follow their passions and talents allows them to share their personality and interests, of which school leaders might not be aware. For example, administrators can support a science teacher who is interested in reading books to share their interests with others by starting a book club with interested colleagues and students as members. Likewise, recognizing the artistic talent of an economics teacher and encouraging them to start a theatre club would improve motivation and engagement of both the teachers and students.
Appreciation goes a long way
.Rewards and recognitions are great ways to empower teachers. School leaders should start by cultivating a culture of feedback. Regular feedbacks help teachers to move ahead confidently. Plus, if they extend the feedback to include others outside the school, including parents and education bodies, that is a bonus.
When school principals commend teachers for their teaching practices, they feel accepted. A great way to know about the work that the teachers are doing can be by encouraging other teachers, for example, HODs, to inform about teachers’ work that needs appreciation.
Maintaining a feedback journal is again a great way to make the process easier. It will help school leaders to jot down feedbacks they cannot give the moment it occurs to them, but it will allow them to pass it on later (“10th January- Miss XYZ-While I was giving a round, I heard how well you were explaining the lesson. Good job!”). This is a great way to strengthen the relationship because teachers will see that the school administration is making efforts to note their efforts.
Regular wellness checks
The power of a simple “How are you doing today?” is huge, but overlooked. By regularly welcoming and checking up the school teachers with questions like “How was your day?” or “How is everything at home?” or “Do you need my help in anything?” school leaders build an easy-going atmosphere of trust and support. The teacher gets the assurance that there will always be a person to rely on in the workplace.
Plan social outings
School is a workplace for teachers. No matter how many times they say that they have fun with children, sometimes they get worn down too. Putting up the feet becomes necessary from time to time. Think of picnics, sport events, or local events. It is a great way for teachers to get together and spend some time with each other too.
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