As a member of the administrative team, one of your primary functions is to support your teachers, and supporting those teachers who earnestly seek to build a classroom culture of care and support is a great way to make your school a better place.
The best of teachers are willing to take risks to turn their classroom into a place where all students feel safe and can best learn. Risk-taking means that you’re breaking ranks and rising above just what is expected. So how can the school leader encourage teachers to build the best classroom cultures? Here are five ways you can help:
- Define what “Caring and Supportive Culture”means at your school. Often, people don’t meet the expectations of the leader because they don’t understand what the expectations are. We employ many words, acronyms, and ideas in our schools with a false notion that everyone has the same understanding we do. Not just about classroom culture, but about most anything, if something is really important to your school, you will need to take enough time to reach a common understanding.
- It’s not just what you say, but how you say it; it’s ALSO how often you say it. If you want something to happen at your school, as the leader you can’t just announce it once, expect everyone will get it, and move on to something else. That’s not how change works. It’s rarely our ideas that are the issue in school leadership, but it’s often the implementation of those ideas that stalls our progress. If you want a caring and supportive culture in your school, define it, then talk about it often.
- Support your people through their implementation struggles. Often, the difference between failure and success is one more try. When your teachers work to provide student-centered classrooms of challenging instruction for everyone, it’s not going to happen overnight. You can’t shortcut their struggles, because it’s through struggle we learn how to succeed. Rather, they need you to support them while the struggle is going on. Set aside your role as problem-solver and take on the mantle of support. That’s what your teachers need as they learn and grow.
- Celebrate Progress . Your teachers not only need you to celebrate with them at the finish line, they need you to validate their work along the way. We can make our schools better places with “formative celebrations.” Many of our teachers either don’t finish the drill or change their course along the way because they haven’t gotten any feedback and are fishing for the right answer.
- Share Success. When teachers in your school build a culture of caring and support in their classroom, share their story and their success. Recognize their work, with specifics. Share testimonials from students in the classroom about their experience. Show data that demonstrates the progress made. Take time to talk about success and the pathway to get there, most likely lined with struggle. It will help those who haven’t taken the journey to see how to get there and encourage those who have.
The focus of work in our Principal and Assistant Principal Academies during January 2017 has been on standard five of the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, listed below. Today’s Leadership365 is dedicated to the topic to support that learning.
You can see the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders in entirety here: (http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/2015/ProfessionalStandardsforEducationalLeaders2015forNPBEAFINAL.pdf)