During this holiday season I’m reflecting on the topic of school leadership. School improvement often begins with a vision, but without teacher input or ownership, the vision may become undervalued. It takes commitment and collaboration from all stakeholders to improve a systematic school organization. This collaboration requires staff to trust the leadership within a school. Principals have opportunities to build trust with their staff by ensuring that they don’t underutilize talents within their own school. Teachers often have skills that aren’t necessarily visible during an introductory handshake. Every teacher has strengths that they can bring to the bale, although some of the strengths may be challenging to distinguish. Some of these positive skills could include: rapport with parents, technology integration, planning with teaching teams, leading through mentoring, goal setting with students, small group instruction, facilitating guided groups, etc.)
Teachers that are underutilized often disengage when asked to be part of school leadership decisions. I believe that the majority of teachers unconditionally care and want the best for their students. Unfortunately, teacher underutilization may encourage complacency and a lack of voice during school leadership decisions. At this point, some teachers find professional development elsewhere, or possibly, employment elsewhere. Retaining effective teachers through utilization of teachers’ strengths is possible. I believe that teachers that feel utilized and valued often have ownership and participate more in school decisions. Teacher ownership helps schools become communities of collaboration.
How do educational leaders utilize teachers’ strengths and encourage teacher leadership?
One way to encourage teachers to utilize their strengths is to use inventories. Just as teachers survey their students to learn more about them, principals have a unique opportunity to understand their staff better by surveying them. Being aware of a teacher’s strength will enable a principal to coordinate personell to best meet the needs of a school. Administrators can create a survey using Google Docs or use a template that best meets their needs. Surveying staff members can be a proactive step in understanding individual perspectives and skill sets. Using teacher inventories can lead to staff investment opportunities for school administrators.
What methods do you use to to encourage teacher leadership?