Administrators: What Teachers Want

I attended my first #edchat chat today.  It wasn’t even on purpose. I just happened to be at the computer, on Twitter, when the chat started before my eyes, just after I asked what time the chat was scheduled to begin. I was energized, excited by, and grateful for all the wonderful, insightful comments made by everyone. While I can not do the chat justice here, I wanted to re-tweet some of the great ideas and common themes that occurred in the chat tonight.

The topic of today’s chat was: How Can Administrator’s Support Their Teachers.

There were many contributors to this chat including teachers, administrators, and others. One of the first tweets was by one of my favourite people: Todd Whitaker (@ToddWhitaker).  If you have never read any of Todd’s books, I highly recommend you do!  He has written many books and something for everyone, really. Here is a list of his books.  I see there are new titles here and many here that I have not read, but would love to. Maybe one day.

Anyways, Todd tweeted: “Keep in mind, teachers do not just want to be supported, they want to feel supported! Two very different things.”  This is so very true. Again, as I have blogged about before, it’s not always about your words, but your actions.  It is your actions that really speak more to people. These actions really impact how others feel and help to create a positive learning climate, with students, parents, teachers, and other staff members.

So, how do you go about making teachers feel supported?

I have, as other tweeters also mentioned, given teachers hand-written notes after visiting their class. The notes usually thank them for the opportunity to visit and tell them something I noticed/enjoyed/or was impressed by.  I know, when I was a teacher, these notes really meant something to me and made me feel appreciated and supported.  Todd Whitaker tweeted that administrators should take time to sit down to write several teachers these notes at least once a week. What a great goal  (and totally achievable if it is made a priority).

One of the tweeters actually pointed out that administrators would also like these notes written to them as well.  So very true! I often keep any notes I get from teachers/parents/other staff. On those more challenging days, I take some of those notes and reread them, just to remind myself at the difference I am making.

In order to be able to write these notes to teachers, it is important to actually be IN the classrooms to see what is happening.  Several teachers and administrators tweeted the importance of this and wanting to see administrators spend more time in the classrooms (and hallways), getting to know the teachers and the students.

@edtechsteve tweeted, “Would like to see more admin covering classes for teachers so they can have more time to collaborate. Good for admin too.”  

@northeagles tweeted the idea, “I like giving teachers “get out of class free” cards on special occasions: they pick a class and I teach it while they take a break!” This would be great for a teacher’s birthday, for instance.

@mikevigilant actually goes a step further in his suggestion, “If each of our administrators co-taught one lesson, just ONE, the ripple effect could be huge for us.”  What a great way to make teachers and administrators come together and see each other as educators and learners!

@Philip_Cummings continues with this, and adds, “Encourage & provide release time so that Ts can observe & collaborate w/ other Ts in the building.”  I agree so much with this suggestion. There is wonderful things happening in all of our schools and often the resources in our own buildings are left un-tapped.

Some other great ideas to show appreciation of your staff members included:

@DMS_Principal tweeted, “Administrators could call and leave a message (praise) on home answering machine. Nothing like a compliment after a long day!”  What a great idea!

Another great idea was tweeted by Todd Whitaker: “A personal fav: send Christmas Cards to parents of your teachers with a picture of the teacher on the front & a personal note inside.” 

Some of what people tweeted about had to do with risk-taking.

@lightspeedsys tweeted, “Admins can keep an open ear & mind to new ideas that teachers bring to their classrooms. Even when the ideas don’t sound good at first!”

@rkiker said that he wanted administrators to, “Promote mistakes and failure in the classroom with guided autonomy to improve. Risk taking. It is the only way to wild success

Along similar lines, @squire16 tweeted, “Support teachers by respecting their input and by providing a safe place for honest self-reflection and growth.”

@johntspencer tweeted that administrators should, “Let teachers know that failure is a part of taking risks. Be honest with the failure and learn from it without judgment.”

Risk-taking is so very important if we want our schools to change and improve, and move toward a 21st Century Learning environment.

Others tweeted about the importance of time.

@L_Hilt tweeted, “Don’t waste their time. Stop holding senseless meetings. Communicate non-discussion items via blogs, email, etc.” I think teachers and other staff would really appreciate this. With added demands in our classrooms, we all have such little time each day. Our time really does need to be valued.

Many contributors to the chat emphasized the importance of administrators being “honest and to operate with a transparent set of values/goals/vision.”  This is always a goal of mine. I strongly believe that staff should know how I feel about things, what my goals are, and how students are the basis for all the decisions I make.

@DSM_Principal tweeted that “As admin, we must be fair, equal, and above all honest with all feedback. To do this, we must build trust!”  Yes!  Relationships and trust!  These are so important if we want teachers, and, in turn, students, to take risks in their learning and teaching.  It is when these risks are taken that changes and growth occur.  This is so very important as we strive toward 21st Century Learning.

I would really like to hear more about how @rondmac does this: “I have ‘Talk Times’ which the T’s schedule at their convenience. Topics are whatever the Teacher wants.”  This is a great strategy to get to know teachers better, get to know them as teachers and as people.  I really like this idea.

Above all, as @bhsprincipal tweeted, “We need to look at ourselves as fellow educators not as people on some higher level.

@erinbreedlove also points out that, “Administrators should realize, really, that they’re teachers by training, too! Just now ‘in charge’. Should be no different.”

While I agree whole-heartedly with @bhsprincipal and @erinbreedlove, regardless of how we feel as ‘administrators’, teachers often see you differently. I’ve had this occur a number of occasions. For so many teachers, we are no longer “teachers”, but we are “admin.”.  It is unfortunate that we are not seen as “one of them” because I believe we actually are. We all have the same goals – to help students succeed – personally and academically. With time, and a great deal of relationship-building, teachers will see and appreciated good administrators for who they are – teachers at heart.

I agree with @stephe1234, when she tweeted, “Admin and teachers needs to stop looking at their relationship as “us” vs. “them. This drives me crazy. We’re all in it together.” and @DSM_Principal, “Admin, Teachers, Students, Parents – We Are All In This Together! Let’s SUPPORT one another!”  Exactly!

Above all, as @L_Hilt pointed out, our job as administrators is far more than the present, but we affect so much of the future as well, especially when we, remember “Leaders breed leaders.” Empower your teachers!”  Yes, we need to empower our teachers.  I agree!

I loved @L_Hilts idea she tweeted about, “My best days this year = “grade levels days.” Spent day start t0 finish in 1 gr. level. Loved seeing the day thru tchrs/kids eyes.” I would love to hear more about this! This sounds like a great way to really get into the classrooms, get to know the kids and the teachers!

I keep reminding my husband of the age-old saying, “Happy wife – Happy life.”  The same goes for teachers, as @northeagles points out, “I love the saying: “Happy teachers make Happy students” why wouldn’t admin want things Happy?!”  No kidding!

And, as @PrincipalJ pointed out, never under-estimate the importance of food. She tweeted, “Feed the teachers so they don’t eat the students!”  That made me chuckle, but she’s right – teachers love their food – doesn’t everyone?

I learned many things during today’s chat, but a few include:

  1. I can’t keep up with these chats – even with Tweetdeck AND TweetChat.
  2. I learned how to “favourite” tweets, so I could go back to look at them again later.
  3. Again, what an amazing opportunity to learn from one another and discuss important topics that really make a difference!
  4. I want to attend more chat sessions in the future.  This isn’t too easy with three kiddos though.
  5. I look forward to the opportunity when I am a principal (instead of vice-principal) and can implement even more of these ideas.  As a teaching Vice-Principal, my time is pretty limited.  And while I can and will do many of the things listed, it would be great to have more time to have an even greater impact.

There were so many more insightful comments than what I’ve included here. The comments included even more great ways administrators can support teachers.  If you want to read more, you can see some of my favourite comments here or go to the #edchat archives.  I will definitely be participating in more chats!  I’m sure I will get faster in the future and will be able to keep up better.

I like Lyn Hilt’s suggestion for next Tuesday’s chat: How Teachers Can Support Their Administrators.  Great idea Lyn!

What would be your suggestions, everyone?


Published by Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.

One thought on “Administrators: What Teachers Want

  1. This was a great #edchat! I love getting new ideas/feedback from teachers. Just to add to your reading pile…Feed the Teachers so They Don’t Eat the Students is actually a book!

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