By Teachers, For Teachers
Have you ever thought about what you would say to your administration if they asked you how they could better support or empower you in the teaching profession? You may talk about how they should be more present or consistent or even transparent. You may also mention the school climate, test scores, or data. In today’s teaching profession, administrators must be open and ready for teacher’s opinions on professional development if they want their school faculty to be happy. We asked those in the teaching profession on social media, teaching blogs, and Reddit what they would say to their administration if they had the opportunity. Here are the top responses.
The number one response from teachers on how administration can help support and empower their teachers through professional development was to be more present. One teacher on Reddit said, “I wish my administration would visit my classroom more frequently to get to know my teaching style and get to know my students.” Another teacher on social media responded, “Administration can help support me by actually coming into my classroom more than once a year.” The majority of teachers feel abandoned and want more face time with their administration. One reader even said, “It would be nice if the principal would come into my classroom enough where my students didn’t feel nervous or even ask, “Who’s that?” If they were to see her face every now and then, then maybe they would feel more accepting of her.” Another wrote, “Actually visit the teachers. I just left a school after several years and the principal had only been in the building I taught in twice -- once at the interview.”
Overall, teachers want their administrators to show they care by being more present and not treating them as an afterthought. They want them to come to their programs and events, show up more than once a year in their classroom, and be in the hallways greeting students, parents, and faculty.
Another way that administration can help support and empower teachers through professional development is to treat them as equals. Teachers have degrees and schooling just like administrators, and sometimes the teachers feel that their administration looks down upon them, especially the new teachers. One new teacher said, “Treat NEW teachers like professionals too. Just because we're new, doesn't mean we aren't qualified.” Another said, “So trust us. It's bad enough as a new teacher where we feel powerless and vulnerable already.” Teachers want to be treated as equals, not as inferiors. One reader said it best when he said, “Visit each department equally and treat them all the same. Treat your elective teachers and non-core teachers on the same level as core classes.”
Teachers want administration to have their back and support them. They want to feel valued and appreciated. One reader on Reddit said, “The best principal I’ve ever had ... I just knew he had my back … He made me feel valued. He made me feel appreciated. He didn’t waste my time.” Another reader on a teaching blog talked about how she wished their principal would back them up when it came to student discipline, while another talked about wanting their principal to go to bat for her when it came to student programs. Overall one reader said best when he said, “The best principal I’ve ever worked for was all about what was best for the kids … She took care of her staff. She listened to her staff, and took all our suggestions seriously. She knew that we were doing what was best for our kids, and would go to bat for us whenever we needed. She was fiercely loyal to her staff and extremely protective of our kids.” The overall census was that teachers want to feel supported from their administration, and they can do that by having always having their teachers’ backs.
Another big complaint was that administration is not mindful of a teachers’ time. Teachers do NOT want to waste any of their time because if they do, then that means that they must take their work home with them, and that is not an option that any teacher wants to take. Do not schedule meetings during a teachers’ planning time or waste their time lecturing them on something that could have been sent in an email. Teachers want to know that administration values their time and wants them to be mindful of that.
Teachers want to be heard. They want to feel like they can come to administration and give their thoughts, opinions, and comments without any backlash. One reader wrote, “Listen to your staff. Really listen. Read between the lines. Build a culture of trust for your employees so they know you have their back no matter what.” Invite suggestions and welcome critiques, because when you do teachers will feel valued.
In short, the best way that administration can support and empower their teachers through professional development is to simply be present. Treat teachers as equals and be mindful of their time. Listen to their thoughts and concerns and always have their back. One reader said it best when she wrote, “My administration treats me as the expert. They always say that we are the ones in the classroom, not them. It makes me feel empowered!”
How can administration help to support and empower you in the teaching profession? Share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.