What Teachers Wish Principals Knew
We all know that successful education requires both skilled, passionate teachers and great leadership from principals, but often there are gaps in understanding between the two. Gaps that can hinder productivity and positive interactions. Following are some thoughts from both teachers and administrators that can change the school day.
Teachers wish you knew…
One of the most consistent problems a teacher faces is time constraints. A teacher is expected to plan and teach relevant lessons, provide grading and feedback to students, keep in regular touch with parents, meet with struggling students after school hours, collaborate with colleagues, maintain a classroom that is engaging and tidy, and the list goes on. So, when a principal does not respect the teachers’ time by scheduling unnecessary meetings or adding yet another administrative task, the work can become overwhelming.
Teachers want to know that you have their backs, they want to know that you will fight for them. Work to create real change for your teaching staff, and not in a one size fits all way. Actually listen to each teacher and work to help in even one specific area—this is a huge morale booster.
Trust and professionalism—your teachers want to know that you trust them to make great decisions and instruct as professionals. That belief you communicate in them is a crucial difference maker.
Principals wish you knew…
No principal wakes up every day with the thought, “How many meetings can I schedule for my teachers today?” Recognize that many times meetings, staff development, and paperwork is mandated at the state level and the principal has no discretion to modify it.
Making decisions and handling problems for hundreds of teachers and students combined is not an easy road. Often, they must make decisions based on the greater good for all, rather than for one teacher or student.
Frequently data is responsible for our choices—standardized test scores, district assessments, student grades, discipline referrals all impact the decisions that have to be made. Many times the alternatives are out of our control.
Your principal is working to make improvements for you and your students all through the year. Creating and implementing new policies and programs is an essential part of our job, and not all of them work. But we are trying to make a difference for you.
Here are some tips for improving communication:
- Be honest and transparent in communicating change.
- View all of the other groups (parents, teachers, and principals) as partners who have a voice in decisions that affect them.
- Start a weekly blog to talk about what is going on around the school and to share fun stories from the week.
- Principals might have coffee each morning with a different group of teachers to foster open communication and collaboration.
Everyone is working hard for student success, and it’s wise to keep that thought at the forefront. Great communication and a simple thank you can change the environment from frustrating to collaboration to be the best.