I was recently asked, "What do you think are two ways for principals (or any school leader) to support teachers?". There is an unlimited number of strategies to support teachers, but I was specifically asked to share two.
I immediately responded:
1. Visibility in the classroom
The basis of the reflection-initiated question was more of why teachers frequently may feel unsupported.
First, I believe teachers may feel unsupported when they believe their administration "doesn't see what goes on in my classroom." Principal and assistant principal visibility in the classroom can alleviate that mindset. It is unrealistic and impossible to spend as much time in every classroom as every teacher would like, simply because we cannot be in 50 places at once. Routine walk-through's and even casual pop-in's at the door during instruction can immediately improve instructional visibility. Personally, I consistently remind teachers to let me know if there is something unique/specific they would like me to come see in their classroom, creating a collaborative ownership of the shared responsibility.
Second, teachers need to be able to comfortably approach their principal/assistant principal to feel supported. A teacher (or any employee) needs to be able to approach their leader with a wide-range of needs/questions/concerns. Sometimes it's simply to share a success or vent a frustration. Either way, teachers need to be able to trust their leader. Approach-ability is quite different than purely pushing responsibility off; if there needs to be action taken, it's expected to be handled together. But, the door must be open for the teacher to approach the principal.
Visibility in the classroom and approach-ability are my top two efforts to support teachers. What are yours?
Thanks for reading,
The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.