Every day, teachers arrive to school ready to put their best foot forward in providing comprehensive, high-quality supports to ensure their students achieve success across all academic disciplines. Teachers show unremitting dedication, support and appreciation for their students as they provide a safe, healthy and educational environment.
Administrators, take note. Consider the high-expectations, you hold your staff. From arriving early to ensure a clean and organized classroom to staying late to grade the day’s assessments. Teachers go above and beyond to support others, so how can you support teachers?
MAKE SURE YOU OFFER REAL SUPPORT
Keep in mind, a paycheck is not support. Regardless of the level of responsibility you place on your teachers or the extra effort you expect they put in on their own time, teachers are rightfully earning their pay.
Similarly, district and school breaks are not support. Teachers have a right to their holiday breaks and summer vacations as they have worked hard and deserve their time off.
WHAT IS GENUINE SUPPORT?
Genuine teacher support is felt long after you leave the classroom or send the email. Offering consistent, reliable and motivational support can go a long way toward earning the respect and dedication of your staff.
HOW CAN I OFFER GENUINE SUPPORT?
Administrators can get bogged down by the idea of ramping up their support game. It can seem daunting to increase the amount of support you offer your staff when you have so many staff members and an endless agenda. Don’t be discouraged. Offering support doesn’t have to be a time suck, it just has to be genuine and helpful.
- Walk into the classroom and ask, “How can I help you?” Set boundaries by indicating what length of time you have available to support your teacher and ask where your services would be best used. If you only have 2 minutes, that’s ok! Maybe your teacher just needs help passing out a round of papers.
- Offer your teachers the unexpected 5 minute break. Give your staff the chance to run to the restroom. When you are responsible for 20+ students, breaks don’t happen very often and your teacher may have had an extra cup of coffee this morning.
- Motivate and support staff at the next professional development by bringing in a small shareable snack, giving them additional planning time or offering up a free coffee to the first person who actively participates.
- Help your staff restock. You can’t afford to refill everyone’s school supplies, but keep backups in your office so when you notice a teacher is down to their last dry erase marker you can offer a couple.
- Play a game. It sounds silly and complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. Start a monthly trivia game or simply incentivize your staff by offering a free movie ticket to the first staff member to submit their weekly or monthly data.
- Start a small staff book or movie exchange for teachers, administrators and support staff to bring in movies for others to borrow.
- Learn alongside your staff. Actively engage in professional development sessions and workshops. Can you pinpoint a couple of teachers who may be struggling on a new instructional strategy? Group with them to provide high quality training in a small group session.
- Put a little bit of effort into spicing up the teacher’s lounge. Take a moment to put on a fresh pot of coffee if you see it has run out or surprise your teachers with unexpected goodies on a Friday after a tough week.
- Don’t show up to work late. If you expect your staff to arrive early to prep for a productive and successful day, be sure to lead by example.
- Don’t walk into a classroom with no background knowledge and jump right in. Your teacher may have something in the works and you want to make sure your help is supporting that endeavor, not working against it.
- Don’t expect teachers to use their hard earned money on refilling all their classroom supplies. Teachers work hard for a pay that many would say isn’t nearly what they deserve. Don’t add to their financial stresses by expecting your staff to put their salary right back into the classroom.
- Don’t close your door. It is likely that if your teachers are coming to your office they either need immediate assistance or would like to speak to you privately. Give them an opportunity for both.
- Don’t overload your staff with emails. Have a quick snippet of information you want to share with your staff? Do a brief walkthrough. This will give you a chance to check-in with staff and share your news while allowing staff to see your presence.
- Don’t keep your staff long in meetings and trainings they don’t need to be in. If you are hosting a professional development focused around K-3 instruction, let the rest of your staff go. Eventually, everyone will get their opportunity to leave early and it will balance itself out. This is a great opportunity to show staff how much you respect their time.
School and district needs can pile up fast. It is no secret that principals and administrators have their hands full every day with a never ending task list, but keep in mind, your teachers are your front line. Their performance directly reflects yours. Motivation, confidence and production fall right in line with support. By increasing support for your staff, student performance will rise, as will test scores and achievement results.