Last school year, I wrapped up my 13th year as a teacher, but year 14, I returned as a school administrator. There are two types of administrators, those who were great teachers and those who were not. We all know of those administrators whose charisma, nepotism, or friendship got them a leadership role. What about those administrators who were talented well-respected teachers who turn into administrators who can’t lead or no one wants to teach under or respects? As I aim to be an effective administrator, I would like to share what I need to remember, so I won’t go from an effective teacher to an ineffective administrator.
I have seen teachers and students become upset over a school leader’s words. Delivery and word choice are key. A church deacon I know used to say, “You can draw more bees with honey than vinegar.” Having difficult conversations is part of the administrator role, and even delivering consequences; however, conversations and consequences can be destructive or restorative.
Teacher burnout is real and typically caused by the demands of administration. Schools have tons of tasks that need to be completed, but there is a way to get these tasks done without stressing out teachers. Giving last-minute deadlines, and micromanaging tasks is a sure-fire way to burn out teachers. Yes, due to law or district changes, this might be tough, yet being willing to give the why is helpful, and also pitching in to help or providing others to help can ease stress.
We need educators in the room making decisions about education. Being able to speak to my representatives during the school day was important to me as an educator. The school discipline bill I was passionate about would directly impact students I was serving. Administrators should be aware of education policies and participate in the process and allow and support teachers doing the same.
There’s nothing worse as a teacher than to feel that your administrator doesn’t respect you or your ideas. No, you can’t implement every idea, but if you are organizing committees for input and then go with your own agenda that is contradictory to your committee, teachers are not being heard.
I’ve seen administrators snap at custodians and treat their secretary like a less important individual. Every person in a school is important and no one should feel like they are being treated like an abused animal.
Relationships may change, but teachers have to be held accountable for students becoming great citizens. It was disappointing to see teachers who hurt children with verbal abuse or lack of content knowledge not being held accountable because they were friends with the principal.
Firing teachers should not be the first solution to poor academic outcomes. Teachers need coaching, and administrators should be part of that coaching. The evaluation is a tool to support teachers, not solely a tool to fire teachers.
Last, but not least, you can’t lead if you are not around. There are many directions in which administrators are pulled, but students and staff should not have to wonder if you even showed up to work.
I know I stumbled and had to grow as a teacher, and the same will be the case as an administrator. Hopefully, keeping these thoughts at the forefront of my mind will help me continue down the path of becoming an effective administrator.