Three Easy Ways Administrators Can Support Teachers

How Administrators Can Support TeachersIn See Me After Class, I discuss the four things most administrators want from teachers: “Do your job. Do your job well. Do your job independently and with as little drama as possible. Make yourself, your students, the school, and, yes, your principal look as good as possible.” In a recent interview, however, EdWeek’s Larry Ferlazzo asked an interesting followup question: What are the things most teachers want from their principals? Based on the research I did for the book, teachers would collectively make the following three requests from administrators – or collectively thank administrators who already do these things.

Give plenty of lead-time before making big changes.

Teachers do our best work when we have time to plan ahead. Last-minute changes in classrooms, schedules, or curriculum waste the gas in our tanks and leave us feeling frustrated. With this in mind, we appreciate when you let us know who, what, and where we’ll be teaching as early as possible – and then try to avoid mid-year changes.

Back up teacher judgment calls whenever possible.

Teachers have to make on-the-spot decisions all day, every day. Students challenge our authority. Parents question grades and consequences. Knowing we’ll have your support during a conference gives us more confidence in the classroom. If you do have concerns about how a teacher has handled a situation, make this a private discussion. Reversing teachers’ decisions or reprimanding them in front of others makes them seem weak and sends them back to class with destroyed credibility.

Have fair, transparent processes for making your own decisions.

Make sure your faculty understands how you assign classes, distribute students with behavior problems, and make classroom upgrades. No matter who gets that new smart-board or has to teach the overflow class, avoiding the appearance of favoritism is good for everyone’s morale.

On the flip side, want to see the advice I give teachers about working well with administrators? Here it is.

Note: A version of this post first appeared in Larry Ferlazzo’s Classroom Q&A Column in Education Week. You can read it here.

P.S. You can now get your copy of Adequate Yearly Progress: A Novel!

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