Ways in Which Principals Can Offer Teacher Support
A supportive principal can prompt a whole lot of difference for a teacher. Every teacher wants to be assured that the principal is concerned about them. Among other things, the principal has the foremost responsibility of providing continuous and collaborative support to teachers.
The principal-teacher relationship should be established based on trust. This relationship doesn’t just sprout in a short time. Principals have to gradually groom the relationships while dedicating quality time to learn the strength and weaknesses of each teacher.
The biggest mistake a new principal can make is to start by making several changes. This will cause a faction of the teachers to quickly oppose the principal. If the principal is clever, he will start by making small changes, give time for the teachers to come to terms with them, then slowly introduce larger and more significant changes with time.
One important fact to keep in mind is that such changes should be implemented after deliberating with the teachers. In this article, we analyze ten ideas for earning the trust of teachers and offering them continuous and collaborative support.
Make Room for Peer Collaboration
Give teachers the time to make cooperative efforts while working together. This level of collaboration will consolidate relationships among members of a faculty, offer new or striving teachers the chance to gain useful insight and guidance, and lets teachers share their success stories and best practices. The principal becomes the key facilitator of the collaborative process. They schedule the time for collaboration and outline the agenda therewith. Principals who fail to see the importance of peer collaboration are misplacing its value.
Ask Questions and for Suggestions
The major decisions are taken by the Principal. However, teachers are not to be excluded from the decision making process. Even though the principal’s decision is meant to be final, teachers should be given a chance to share their opinions or offer advice to the principal, especially in cases where the subject directly concerns the teachers. Teachers have intelligent opinions. By asking for their viewpoints, they may either question your ideas concerning a matter or endorse that you are towing the right lane. In decision-making, neither one of these two scenarios is bad.
Back Them Up
Teachers are humans and every human faces challenges at certain points in their personal and professional lives. Principals should completely support a teacher who is faced with a personal challenge (death, separation, sickness, etc). Such a teacher will appreciate any form of support at that time. At times, support might simply be shown by asking about their welfare, and in some critical cases, asking them to take some days off.
You want to support a teacher professionally because you assume they are moral, productive and ethical. However, there are cases where you are unable to offer such support to a teacher because they made a morally or ethically wrong decision. In such a scenario, do not beat around the bush. Come out straight with them and let them know that they are wrong, and you cannot support such actions.
Teachers are never pleased to work with inconsistent principals, especially when handling parent situations or student discipline. A principal should remain just and consistent in decision-making. Teachers may disagree with your approach to situations, but if you can successfully stick to a pattern, they will complain less. For instance, if a child in third grade is sent to the office for arrogance, you can go through records to notice how you previously handled such cases. You wouldn’t want to be known for favoritism.
Perform Useful Evaluations
Teacher evaluations are designed to be tools that reflect a teacher’s present state and point them in a certain path to increase their all-around effectiveness. Directing important evaluations requires a large chunk of time which is a rare commodity for many principals, hence some of them fail to adequately implement their teacher evaluations. Sometimes, to effectively offer teacher support as a principal, constructive criticism is required. There is no perfect teacher. Like every other human, there are areas they need to improve upon. With an important evaluation, you get the chance to be critical and to applaud. There are two ends to it. An adequate evaluation cannot be made during a single visit to a classroom. The most important evaluations are obtained from a summation of information gathered from multiple visits.
Design a Teacher-Friendly Schedule
Principals have the responsibility of designing the daily schedule for their buildings. This comprises the teacher planning periods, class schedules, and duties. To please your teachers, reduce their working hours. Teachers abhor any form of duty, bus duty, lunch duty, recess duty, etc. If you can design a schedule that requires each of them to handle just a few duties monthly, your teachers will cherish you.
Urge Them to Share Challenges with You
Operate with an open door policy. The principal-teacher relationship should be so strong that the teachers feel free to share their issues with the principal and feel reassured that the principal will do the most to help them in a discrete format. Most times, you will see that teachers just need someone to share their frustrations with, so, more often than not, it’s all about being a great listener. Other times, you need to ask the teacher for time to allow you to ponder on the issue before giving them straightforward advice.
You should not compel the teacher with your conviction. Give them alternatives and explain to them your point of view. Let them know what you would have done and why, yet don’t make them feel awful for making a different choice. Understand the uniqueness of every challenge and that your approach to it depends on the situation.
Get to Know Them
The difference between knowing your teachers and becoming their best friends is slight. You should acknowledge your place as their leader, hence work at building a trustworthy relationship and keeping a safe distance that allows you to make tough decisions regardless. You should also let your relationship with them pivot at the midpoint between professional and personal, without tilting to the more personal end. Actively enquire about their families, hobbies, and other things. This gives them the idea that you care about them as individuals and as teachers.
Give Advice, Assistance, or Direction
Every principal is mandated to continually advise, assist, or direct their teachers. These are the fundamental duties of every leader, and principals are the instructional leaders to their teachers. They can carry out these functions in various ways. It can be done by verbally advising the teacher. It can also be done by letting the teacher observe another teacher who is strong in his or her area of weakness.
Also, giving them books and resources can be effective for providing advice, assistance and direction.
Offer Relevant Professional Development
Every teacher is expected to take part in professional development. Nonetheless, teachers do not want to carry out a professional development program that is irrelevant to them. No teacher would be glad to undergo eight hours of professional development in a course that is useless to their area of specialization or that they will not use. Since the principal is responsible for the planning of professional development, such an occurrence falls back on him. The professional development opportunities you select should be those that will benefit every teacher, including the ones who do not meet your minimum professional development criteria. Not only will your teachers appreciate you better, but your school will further undergo a long term improvement as your teachers keep learning new and practical skills.
What did we miss?