Principals have a tough job. They are responsible for an entire building of staff and students. Answer questions and demands from all sides. It is hard to for them to focus on their passion: The student and their learning (Has to be to spend so much time in a school), In the rush to handle the demands of the job, principals can take their staff for granted. Forgetting about the need for building and maintaining relationships. Below are a few traits that teachers find desirable in their principals.
- Listen to teachers, acknowledge their concerns and give them assurances to their actions. Teachers need to feel that the principal hears them and cares what is being said. Teachers like to feel like their opinion matters and it should. Respond promptly to concerns and address them. Disagreements will occur but not without hearing both sides out, then agree to disagree.
- Give time to your staff. Teachers want to be able to reflect and share what they are doing in their classrooms with the principal. Leaders need to be available for staff to meet, share positives and discuss concerns. Create a schedule so teachers know when you have time for them on a regular basis. When principals aren’t available teachers feel that they don’t care what is going on in the classrooms. Ask questions about lessons, successes and failures. Staff will be more comfortable sharing when more time if give.
- Give honest timely constructive feedback. IF you see a great lesson, tell the world. IF you see one that needs work, reflect back to your teaching days find the positive and then share how to make it better. Be specific on what works and doesn’t to help the staff grow.
- Treat all staff as equals. Teachers need to feel valued and equal. Every member of a building’s staff has unique qualities that make the entire team work. Give all staff equal access and time. Play no favorites, staff will see this action and start making assumptions upon it.
- Publicly back your staff. Teachers need to make split decisions when dealing with students. Back the decisions publicly, so staff feels supported. If teachers action was a wrong, deal with the issue in a private setting so the teacher can save face. Teachers need to feel supported.
- Lead by example. Model the behaviors you desire out of staff. Remember that your staff is watching every action. Choices you make with behaviors affect the entire building.
- Be Positive. Smile and say Hi! Just like Harry Wong says a teacher should meet their students, Principals should meet their staff every day. This is probably the hardest thing to do but has the best results when done.
Hope these quick reminders help remind principals to focus on their staff and create a positive environment for everyone to work and learn.