Over this summer, many teachers have been spending a lot of time with family, loved ones and most importantly pondering on if they want to return to the classroom this school year.
Teachers are simply tired of returning to schools and school districts that aren’t leading by example.
We often hear of pay increases, poor school academic performance scores, and discipline issues as top reasons why teachers are leaving.
In reality, there is a systemic issue in education. Last year, I ran for school board as a special education teacher. It was so rewarding to run for public office and actually educate students, parents and even the policy makers that govern our schools on what we as teachers actually do.
Moreover, I witnessed how many school administrators don’t understand the importance of leadership. Our school systems are run by board members and superintendents who are far removed from teaching and learning. Yet, they influence and make policies that either promote, prevent, or police educators who simply want to help children be successful.
Schools that are not high performing face a lot of pressure and scrutiny. Specifically, the teachers who are on the front lines of the work, are constantly blamed for the lack of success students achieve.
However, what stakeholders fail to realize is that improving teachers’ performance starts with leadership. It’s more than just creating a safe, diverse, and engaging learning environment.
Improving teachers performance should include:
- Setting accountability measures and expectations for leadership.
- Having leadership engaged in professional development and learning, not simply observing teachers but also designing then modeling lessons for them.
- Investing in family and community engagement resources for struggling teachers. For example, teachers who struggle with teaching writing or literacy concepts can be partnered with a community group that can provide supplemental support for struggling readers.
- Proving self care opportunities and outlets for teachers. For example, when teachers are sick, allowing them time off without making them feel guilty for being away.
These tips are ones I’ve seen principals implement and also support I’ve provided to teachers as an administrator. I would encourage teachers to ensure they are clear about what’s being asked of them, they document requests for support and help, and most importantly, they rely on seasoned teachers and instructional coaches to support their teaching and learning because school administration might not be able to help with teaching.