By Teachers, For Teachers
Having completed a Masters in school leadership, I’ve officially taken the first step toward crossing over to the other side: administration. While I intentionally do not refer to it as “the dark side” as many teachers would, I can’t help but still call it the “other.”
The work of an administrator is inherently different in that they don’t have a set schedule of where they need to be and with whom, they get their own office and they’re paid more. However, having taken on some administrative duties over the years, I see more similarities than differences when it comes to instructional administrators.
Approaching Administrating as a Teacher
To name a few, they are responsible for instructing a diverse group of learners on how to improve their skills, they have to evaluate those learners and they have to be able to prove that those learners are making progress. Unfortunately, so much hostility breeds for administrators because they don’t do these things in the same manner in which they are telling teachers to do them for their students. Too often, teachers feel more threatened than supported, expected to perform certain tasks without being instructed on how to do so, analogous to a pop quiz on random topics a teacher may give his class.
Some teacher leaders and I have started to write up a proposal that would make the work of administrators more supportive to us teachers in the building and less of a guessing game. We’ve started drafting rubrics for observations around topics which teachers would self identify as an area in need of improvement.
We would also take our school wide goals and create rubrics which reflect growth in these areas as well that every teacher would be evaluated on by themselves, by their peers and finally by administration. By creating these tools, we hope to support our leaders in supporting us. They have touted that we are a collaborative team of professionals in the past and as busy as they are, we’re confident they’ll appreciate our work on this, more than they’ll take it as an affront.
Another suggestion which has come from a teacher at my school is to have administration set up a grade book for us teachers – we acknowledge that paper work is part of the job and that we as professionals we are expected to meet deadlines, but we rarely get any feedback on the obligations we fulfill. A simple acknowledgment that I got my bulletin board up on time and to the proper standards would motivate me to continue to do so.
On the other hand, the apparent disregard for whether teachers meet or miss deadlines doesn’t push me to do the former in the future. “Missing assignments” would remind a teacher what she has due while at the same time allow administration to keep track of how compliant the team has been on a given initiative.
In suggesting changes like these, we’re hoping to thin the division people see between administrators and teachers. We’re all working to help others learn and become better at what they do. While I’m not expecting teachers to come to view administration as the “bright side,” perhaps they can begin to see them as teachers of teachers instead of “others.”
What teaching tips do you have for administrators? Share in the comments section!