The more people you have as your administrator the more you begin to see the vast array of leadership styles and priorities any given principal may have. But what do teachers really want? There’s no right formula to follow and a million ways to be an effective leader, but for me, there are a few things I’d love to see in all my administrators. My top 5 list is below:
5. Work harder than me
There truly always is something a teacher could be doing that they aren’t. The profession of education is truly limitless because there is never too much you can do for your students. The difficult part is finding the balance between your professional life and your personal life. The administrators live by the same truth, but even more so. Due to being the head of the school, they have to set the example for everyone else in the building. They have to model that we need to work hard and tend to that extra detail to ensure we are truly serving our students the best we can (while maintaining a healthy personal life). When teachers feel that their administrators aren’t giving as much effort as them, problems arise. Teachers can easily lose motivation if their leader isn’t paving the way.
4. Get to know the students
We want to see that you’re here for them. If we are laying it all on the line for our students every day, we want to see you do the same. Go out and talk to some kids, learn their names, build some rapport and relationships. Nothing gets me motivated for a day of teaching like seeing my principal at the front gate greeting kids by name with a smile on their face Trust me, this goes a long way.
3. Help me get better
Honestly, I don’t care how you do it. But please, just help me get better. I’d prefer if I felt a partnership and trust with you where you could give me personal feedback designed to get me better. It might sound weird, but it’s very rare that teachers receive this. It might be that principals are afraid to do so because it could result in difficult conversations or it might be that principals aren’t managing their time well or maybe they simply have too much on their plate. Even if I’m not receiving great development directly from my administrator, I still want him/her to help me get better. Motivate me, point me in the right direction or show me a resource I haven’t heard of. The big point is that teachers are the ones who actually work with the students. We’re the ones that are actually their grooming, teaching and motivating the students to succeed. Our students need us teachers to be as good as we possibly can. We need our building leaders to help us get there.
2. Make difficult, but the right decisions
Every decision must be made with the students at the forefront of the decision making process. Thus, the leader must always think of the students first and foremost. Often, making decisions through this lense can be difficult and it requires a truly strong person to be able to do so. However, it’s what a strong school and our students need. When administrators start making decisions based on other motivations (maybe to maintain the status quo, maybe to make themselves or the school appear better or maybe to avoid the difficulties that may arise) the schools and the staff begin to lose their way. Ultimately, it’s the students that suffer the most.
1. Have a focused plan for the school.
Without this, nothing else mentioned above matters. Some things may be going well, even great, but without a plan for the students that come through the doors everyday we can’t accomplish our true, overarching goal of getting every child ready to be successful in life. The first thing a leader must do is decide where the organization or group is going. If I see scattered PDs, crazy shifts in purchasing, curriculum makeovers after short periods of time, or initiative overload I won’t be a fully pleased teacher and I know my students won’t be on the track to achieve their potential. I will feel the need to make personal adjustments in order to do what’s right for the students in my class. There must be a clear vision so that we can all get on the same team and go in the same direction – the right direction for our students.