Recently, teacher MaLia wrote to the We Are Teachers HELPLINE regarding the need for administrators to gain teachers’ trust. “What do you do when you know admin is watching and waiting for you to slip? It is such an ugly feeling.”
It got me thinking. Do teachers feel nervous or fearful when we walk in their room? Are they too overwhelmed with new curriculum, teaching strategies, initiatives, student behavior, parents, teacher evaluations, and testing? It might help to gain teachers’ trust by taking direct action.
Here are 5 simple steps you can do today that gain teachers’ trust:
- Listen to them after you ask them, “How’s it going?” This simple question begins to build relationships and provides an opportunity to see where everyone is at. Some teachers may talk about personal struggles, some may talk about struggles with student behaviors others may share a new strategy they are excited to try. Whatever it is they want to share my role is to listen, take note, give words of encouragement, and think about next steps.
- Recognize and name the great work that teachers are already doing. Many teachers don’t realize how many teaching moves they are currently making or how their learning environment is positively impacting students. Popping into a classroom for a few minutes and leaving a note recognizing and naming specific positive practices can go a long way in reassuring teachers they are doing good work.
- Support in differentiated ways. Being responsive to the individual needs of teachers is important. Teachers may need support with behaviors in the classroom, or with trying new instructional strategies. The key is to show up and take some kind of action to get teachers the support they need.
- Celebrate each small success with teachers. Staff meetings should always start with celebrations. It is a school leader’s responsibility to provide opportunities for teachers to celebrate the work they are doing. A celebration may be as simple as a teacher who has tried some new strategies that now allow an unfocused student to complete tasks. I love when teachers enthusiastically pull me into their room to celebrate a student’s writing or fluent reading or how two friends demonstrated empathy. Celebrating allows us take a deep breath and soak in the satisfaction of a job well done.
- Encourage teachers to focus on their wellbeing. Teachers need to hear from administrators that we don’t expect them to do it all. Helping teachers break things down and focus on a few areas where they want to grow relieves that overwhelmed feeling.
We are all learning together.
We can’t do it all.
It’s okay when things don’t go as planned.
Be kind to yourself.
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