Fewer and fewer students are entering colleges of education and many current teachers are discouraging them from pursuing a career in teaching. (Read here, please. ) Principals say that many of their teachers report being overwhelmed, overworked, and stressed.
During this era of transformation in education, it is a challenging time to be a teacher; it is also challenging to be a principal or assistant principal whose task is to support the teachers.
Don’t let the challenge get the best of you! It’s your guidance and steadiness during challenging times that sets you apart as a leader. We can continue to have great schools that lead students to success as long as we have effective teachers. Your mission: support your teachers (even in tough times) and help them be good at their work.
Something good for every teacher to focus on? Purposeful, meaningful work. The kind of work that will make you proud of your chosen career; the kind of work that will make you want to go to school every day. Purpose is the antidote for pressure.
How? Here are five ways to support your teachers and help them do the things they need to do for students (there are certainly more than five, but this is a start).
- Stability: Humans aren’t fond of change in general; teachers, specifically, prefer security to adventure. Change is hard for many teachers; provide them with as much stability as you are able.
- Listening: If your teachers are stressed, you need to provide them a chance to vent in a positive, productive way. Set up focus groups to give them that opportunity. Be available, be genuine, and be listening. It matters more than you think!
- Appreciation: Find out how they like to be shown appreciation and then set out to do it regularly. Michelle Dyal, Principal at Bleckley County Middle School in Cochran, GA used the form at the top of this page to find out what her teachers preferred.
- Visibility: When you are in the halls and in the classrooms, everything is better. Students who might otherwise make poor choices in behavior are more likely to behave appropriately if you “seem to be everywhere” all at one time. The good that comes from being in the building and away from your office is hard to overestimate.
- Focus: Principals and APs aren’t really at the school to make teachers’ jobs easier; we can, however, help them to find more meaning in their work. One of the best things good administrators do is keep teachers (and the whole staff) focused on the right things. Something good for every teacher to focus on? Purposeful, meaningful work. The kind of work that will make you proud of your chosen career; the kind of work that will make you want to go to school every day. Purpose is the antidote for pressure. Help your teachers focus, and you’ll be giving them what they need to be their best.