Sometimes things aren’t what they seem…
As a teacher I very rarely thought of things from the perspective of my administrator. I still tend to develop training, development, and the services I provide to schools and districts from a teacher-centered perspective. It has always been and always will be my belief that initiatives and instructional methods will work better when built this way.
While I continue to primarily work with teachers, my interactions with administrators are much more frequent than ever before. From these interactions I have realized that some of the misconceptions I harbored from the classroom were not only incorrect, but actually very far from the truth.
Here are 3 things I’ve learned that your administrators wish you knew.
1. They Care What You Think
Whenever I discuss doing anything with a school or district the two questions I get more than any other are “How does this help our students?” and “How does this help my teachers?” The first question has more to do with an administrator’s responsibility to their schools / district and their position. The second one says a lot though. Administrators are constantly confirming with us that we’re going to work together to allow you to get to “buy in” on your own, and they want to avoid “forcing” anything on teachers.
Very often, administrators will bring teachers to meetings, and into the discussion, to get feedback and thoughts on what changes will be made or what training will take place. This shows me that your administrator truly cares about the day-to-day grind teachers face and that your opinions are valued.
So, even if you feel like you’re having another initiative thrust upon you, chances are your admin team really has thought about how it affects you and your students, and they feel it’s going to be good for both.
2. They’ve Been Where You Are:
I know it can seem like your administrator is pretty far removed from the classroom, but many of the principals, superintendents, and curriculum directors we talk to still have a deep classroom level understanding of what good instruction looks like. I think a lot of teachers forget that almost every administrator taught in a classroom first. Many of the discussions I end up having are focused on best practices. To be honest, a lot of times the reason we end up working with a school or district is because they think that our system will make it easier for their teachers to implement best practices in the classroom. They know how hard your job is; they just see it and manage it from a different perspective now.
3. They Want What’s Best For Everyone
This is probably the most eye-opening part of what I’ve learned over the last few years as I discuss teaching with more and more administrators. They need to be able to provide leadership and initiatives that are what’s best for not only the students, but the teachers and all stakeholders at the same time. As a teacher it’s easy to focus 100% of your energy on students, but administrators need to ensure that everything they do aligns with what’s best for students, teachers, district leadership, the community, and parents all at once. They also have to do this while keeping their staff motivated and the learners in their school or district focused and on track.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Give your administrator a break. You may love your admin most days, but the next time you have a day where you feel like cursing under your breath, or the next time you smile through a meeting before angrily venting afterwards, try to imaging things from their perspective. Nine times out of ten, they are on your side.