George Lucas Educational Foundation
School Leadership

Administrators, Empower Your Teachers

March 20, 2015 Updated March 19, 2015

I am a huge advocate of student voice in the classroom and in education in general. Being a connected educator has opened up a few opportunities and possibilities for me both personally and professionally. I started to reflect on this reality a few weeks ago. We speak about empowering student voice in the classroom, but it is also important for us to empower teachers to be the best they can be in their own classrooms. Empowering teachers impacts education to change in a positive direction. I wrote a personal blog a week ago about how to advocate for teachers, but the point of view was that from a PLN educator. I think it’s just as important to empower teachers at your school to be leaders and driven learners. Here are several categories that are important to consider when empowering teachers:

So how can we empower teachers?

A true leader is one who is able to extend their leadership to others and allow them to lead positive change. Consider giving teachers an opportunity to lead the way in teaching and their own learning in the classroom and school. This can be done in many different ways:

Leadership/ownership:

  • Provide teachers with an opportunity to participate in conversations that drive curriculum development and design.
  • Participate in the process of decision-making on school policy, strategy and mission. - Support their initiatives and ideas for professional development, change implementations, strategy, deadlines, logistics.

Professional Development:

  • Encourage teachers to set out personal goals, and offer your support in making them happen through professional development, funding, conferences, and publications.
  • Support teachers to facilitate a mentorship program that supports onboarding of new teachers with resources, constructive feedback and consistent support when needed.
  • Make your school inclusive to all your teachers by providing opportunities for professional development and education on equity and diversity. It would be a bonus if teachers can create a diversity and equity committee devoted to the mission of inclusivity in your school.

Culture:

  • Foster an environment that supports collaboration and team building: teacher lunches, day trips, and coffee chats before classes should be ongoing in your school to create a positive culture.
  • Emphasis on communication to build a positive school culture is also important. When teachers are empowered to communicate their thoughts and ideas in a safe and positive environment, they will extend this mindset in their classroom.

Appreciation/Gratitude:

  • Show teachers that you appreciate what they do in and out of the classroom everyday. There are so many ways to show appreciation to teachers and often a simple thank you and a smile can make a teacher’s day. I worked at a school where the principle would take a walk in the hallway every morning after class has started and check in on the teachers and students, and just say hello. One of my colleagues confessed to me that it made her nervous when she first started out, but she learned that he does it from a place to not criticize her, but to show that he appreciates what she does in the classroom and he’s there to support her in what she needs.
I realize that some of these elements are hard to practice and implement in a school, especially when it comes to policy and curriculum design and development. However, there are always resources, strategies and support for schools who are willing to empower their teachers and include them in their academic processes. Please share what your school does to empower teachers in and out of the classroom.

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we've preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own.

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