Traits teachers desire in their Principals.

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.

How you do something matters!!

As teachers we have to be constantly thinking. How we present matter, the words we use, how we build a collaborative culture of trust in our classroom. Our tasks are challenging. We have to make students do something they don’t necessarily want to do, learn, work and grow. Teachers don’t dole out incentives, such as money or promotions. Teachers don’t have the power to fire the students when they don’t preform well, We have to frame tasks in ways that give students the feeling of control and choice. while maintaining control, guiding towards learning target. Highly effective teachers spend weeks planning for the creation of their classroom environment. Procedures and policies help build the classroom atmosphere. Students learn about teacher expectations through these procedures. Routines are established and students gain clear expectations for their behaviors.


Classrooms spend weeks at the start of the  school year working on building this trusting atmosphere. As students begin to show trust, teachers focus more on academic lesson and less on modeling procedures to establish trust. At this point teachers need to be careful. One small slip up, one unplanned moment, second of anger all the hard work can be undone. Yelling in anger, not following classroom procedures, showing favoritism are all mistakes that can cause a classroom to fall apart. It has happened to me. You might not notice right away. You might catch yourself and think, well my students did not notice, but they always do. First you won’t notice the culture changing, it is hidden. Slowly students will test the boundaries and challenge the norms. If you are not careful, all control will be lost. Best solution is to acknowledge the slip up, apologize and move back to the norms. Trying to cover up poor choices and lack of planning is only modeling behaviors we don’t want in students. For me the trusting collaborative culture in the classroom is important enough for me to admit my mistakes.

Does this type of modeling happen everywhere?

I wish companies modeled more of the citizenship and collaboration expectations that schools help set. Many businesses including schools don’t seem to value these behaviors in their cultures. Bosses are often depicted as shouting orders, stealing ideas and demeaning subordinates. Our students have grown up in a culture where their parents are often grumbling about work and their working conditions. Many will argue that is the nature of work. I would argue that times are a changing. Many of the new corporate giants like Google, Quicken Loans, and Facebook are working hard to make their collaborative culture of trust a key to their success. Employees like working for corporations that follow their procedures, model trust and collaboration and apologize for hiccups along the way.

School districts need to follow the model their teachers present in the classroom and corporate success stories have used to grow. Too often, districts uphold the stereotypical  boss imagine. Shouting orders from on high, without spending time to develop relationships, build trust and give staff guided ownership in the necessary changes. Leaders often forget how to lead, once they have climb into their position of power. It is often how a change is presented that gains acceptance, than the change itself. Even the most necessary change, can break a collaborative trusting culture if presented in the wrong manner.

How we teach, lead, DO anything matters because that is how we are perceived! And perception is everything!!

2013 Resolutions

So it is a New Year! I have high hopes for 2013 as a professional educator. I have decided to post my resolutions for all to see to help me stay focused on the ideas and changes that I feel are important for this new year.

1. Stay positive: If I am going to make changes I have to focus on the positive and let the negatives lie where they are. I can give in and become an “energy vampire.” There is so much negativity surrounding the education profession today, it is easy to get sucked in an allow it to affect your teaching and you personally.

2. Expand my PLN: This past year of being a connected educator has helped me grow exponentially as an educator. I plan on continuing, I don’t think I could ever go back to being on “an island” alone with issues. Twitter, blogging, chats have so expanded my horizons and helped me find mentors and colleagues to push me as an educator.

3. Use more Formative Assessment in my classroom: Being my third year in the Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators program, I need to make sure I am using all of the wonderful techniques I have learned. I often focus on my favorites and forget about the rest. It is important to vary the Formative techniques I use. Need to focus more on allowing students to self-assess.

4. Lead by example: I need to continue by asking others to do as I do. Leaders leave the footsteps for people to follow them. I need to continue to press my feet into the ground for all to see and follow. If I say I am going to do something, I need to get it done. This goes for staff and students. I need to make sure if I ask the students to complete a task, I need to model it full for understanding,

5.  Blog: I need to do a better job of sharing my experiences. I am a poor writer in general, but I can write. If I write more I will get better. I wrote 53 blogs last year, I hope to improve on that number significantly this year. In blogging more, I will also be holding myself more accountable for my teaching and actions. I also have hopes of improving this site, by adding pictures and links,


I hope everyone has a great 2013. Keep up with your resolutions. Help hold me to mine.