Welcome to Teacher Appreciation Week! Let’s talk about what we, as school leaders, can do to genuinely show appreciation for our teachers. I’ve got to give a shout out here to Jen Manly, who had a conversation with me a week ago specifically about teacher workload. That’s something Jen focuses on with her business, Strategic Classroom. (check Jen out on TikTok and Instagram) The more I reflected on our conversation, the more I thought about some authentic forms of appreciation we can show for teachers, rather than trinkets, luncheons, stickers, or suckers on their desk. All of that stuff’s wonderful. I’m not saying don’t do that, but I’m talking about the genuine appreciation that our teachers need and deserve. Here then are 5 fail-proof
- Treat them like professionals. We have to treat and trust our teachers like the professionals they are. We can no longer allow teachers feel marginalized or teachers to feel like they’re just being told by somebody else what they have to do. We have to trust them. They’re highly educated individuals. They care about their kids. They know what their kids need better than anyone. They’re the ones that are in the classroom with them every single day. Folks, we have got to trust our teachers. We gotta give them the latitude to do their work as professionals. Because that’s the number one thing they want.
- Be cognizant of their time. We need to ensure that we allocate time appropriately for our teachers so that they can do the things that they need to do. When we steal a prep hour for a, a coverage of a class or something like that, we need to understand that that’s more than just whatever you compensate them ($35 an hour or $60 an hour, or whatever) It’s more than that. That is one hour of time that they have now lost that they need to be using for grading purposes, for preparation, for class, for all of those types of things. When we’re asking new initiatives of folks, we gotta make sure we’re giving them the appropriate amount of time to learn that skill, to take on the new learning, and also to have the time they need to process and move away from whatever it is that we’re, we’re taking off of their plate.
- Stop expecting them to do work outside of their contract time. It is not inappropriate for them to say, this is the end of my contract time. I’m not available after the end of contract time. I’m gonna go be a parent. I’m gonna go spend time with my kids. I’m gonna go to my second job because I don’t get paid very well, and I need to have this second job. Whatever it is, folks, we, we can’t continue to expect our staff to work outside of their contract time. And if they do, we need to compensate them appropriately. I don’t expect my accountant to answer the phone when I call it eight o’clock at night, nor do I expect him to be working on the weekend. And if he did, I, I should be paying him for that.
- Listen to them: We must listen to our teachers and not just hear their problems. We need to listen to their input. Often, leaders will try to solve problems with a group of other leaders and don’t include teachers in the conversation. Again, looping back to number one, your teachers are professionals. Listen to them. Really spend time with them and hear what they have to say, and when they give great input, you need to utilize that, put it to work, and then give credit for it.
- The handwritten note: I shared in a blog post a couple weeks ago. It’s something quite simple, leave them a handwritten note to say, “I appreciate you”, or, “Have a wonderful week”. When possible, be specific about it. Personal touches make such a difference. Make sure that we’re really valuing our teachers and appreciating them, and sharing those handwritten notes.
- BONUS: Pay them what they are worth: All right, I know as administrators, we don’t have a lot of control over this one, but we gotta pay our teachers what they’re worth. But, we can’t continue to pay teachers poverty level wages. We have to pay them appropriately. Again, they are professionals. If we’re really gonna value them, if we’re really gonna appreciate them, how about we demonstrate that through their paychecks?
Have a #RoadToAwesome week
Let’s go!!! The entire month of May, the Leaning into Leadership podcast is dedicated to aspiring, rising, and new school/district leaders. Each week’s episode will have a special guest and a very specific topic. I will also be releasing special mid-week episodes all through the month. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss any of this awesome content! Tune in this week to “Leaning into Leadership” where my guest is Assistant Principal and Aspiring Leadership coach Dr. Lute Croy.
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