After serving in a variety of learning communities, I have compiled a list that if implemented by an administration in one institution at one time would make me the best teacher I could possibly be. So here it is:
The Top Ten things an Administrator can do to Make Me a Better Teacher
- Be a teacher! Don’t forget your roots. Your empathy of the demands of a classroom teacher is necessary for us to communicate fairly and effectively. More importantly, as a teacher you can share your expertise with me. I can learn from you because you have the privilege to see all of my colleagues in action. I am sure what they are doing and how they are doing it is relevant to the learning in my classroom.
- Understand that the key to lowering your discipline workload is to be in my classroom and seeing what I am doing to stimulate and motivate my students. Maybe you can share some insight into that difficult child.
- Ask to see my lesson plans not because you have to verify I am following the curriculum or checking a box, but because you earnestly care about the why and how I am teaching. Use them as conversation starters with me or other teachers. Give me feedback if you have a better way or a resource that will tweak my lesson and then follow up with me to see how the lesson idea or resource went. This will show me that you care and more importantly show me you are a resource that I can trust and use. Oh, and if I know you are doing this, then I will meet your expectations happily and readily.
- Protect my instructional time, in fact, promote it. This shows me that you value what I am trying to do in my classroom and that you really do expect learning, exploration, and discovery to happen from bell to bell.
- Create a mission statement that I am involved in and can believe in. Make sure everything we do as a school and that I do as a teacher is tied into those beliefs and ideas. Display it everywhere and on everything. Let it be central to every decision you make and it will be central to every decision I make.
- Model good practice in every meeting and professional development opportunity you provide. As you model this, integrate technology effectively. This will show me that you expect the same and that we are a community of learners.
- Control the clutter. Keep the entire email list to the staff limited. I shouldn’t have to filter my inbox because I know that everything that is sent to me is relevant to my classroom. When it’s important I will know and read all of it, and you can hold me accountable to it.
- Protect our students and me from solicitations that detract from our mission. This will tell me that what happens in this building is not for sale or sponsorship. That what we do here is highly important and unequivocally sacred.
- Be healthy. You are my leader and resource. I need you in school and on your game. Moreover, send that healthy message throughout the school. Invite me to walk around the track with you after school, remove the soda and candy machines or replace them with healthy choices, and create intramural games we can play after school. Ask me how I am feeling and share with me what you are doing to look and feel so great. This will make me healthier and happier knowing I have a support system in school and that you want me here and not using my sick days.
- Acknowledge me. Tell me I am doing a good job when I am doing a good job. Show up in my classroom and ask me what my goals are today. Ask me to show my colleagues my lesson or that resource that you saw me use. Ask me to sit on a committee and tell me why you think I should. Tell me how it will make me grow or send me to a conference and expect me to share when I return. All this will show me that I am valued in this community. That I have contributed to its development and can grow and be stronger in it.