I ended my career as an administrator but started out as a teacher like so many other principals and those in leadership positions at our nation’s schools. One thing that I learned more than anything else is the value of an exceptional teacher.
You may have all of the necessary monetary resources and the most involved and positive parents, but without great teachers, your results will likely be less than ideal. An extraordinary teacher will consistently go out of their way to ensure that their students receive all of the support that they need to succeed.
This can also be an effective strategy to help satisfactory teachers develop into incredible ones. When you give faculty members the respect and professionalism that they deserve, they will take a much more positive view of their jobs and will likely outperform expectations. Don’t think that this means that you should look the other way when there are issues or their performance falls short of expectations. Treat everyone with respect, even in difficult situations, and you will help to foster an environment where everyone wants to succeed.
Let’s take a look at some ways that you can make sure that the great teachers at your school stay there. Losing great teachers can have a hugely significant impact on your school, and not for the better. Making sure that your best and brightest teachers continue to thrive and exceed your expectations, it’s important to value their worth. Showing your appreciation is an effective way to let your best teachers know that you recognize that they consistently go above and beyond expectations.
If you’re not entirely sure what makes an incredible teacher, keep a lookout for faculty members who:
- Always volunteer for additional duties
- Maintain a positive attitude, no matter the challenges
- Build a strong and meaningful rapport with their students
As an administrator, you can enact the following strategies and help keep your best teachers right where they are!
1. Don’t forget that teachers are professionals
It’s important to remember that we’re all adults. There’s really no reason to micromanage your faculty, especially the tried and true veterans. While you may feel like you’re doing your best to be involved, your teachers may feel like you don’t trust them and that’s a sure way to breed resentment. Making your expectations known at the start of the school year can help ensure that everyone is on the same page, and if you maintain a more “hands-off” approach for teachers who are meeting those guidelines you’ll likely foster a good working relationship with them.
2. Instill as much flexibility as possible into teachers’ schedules
So many teachers are also parents, and a little flexibility can go a long way. When you allow teachers to spend their downtime as they see fit you are letting them know that you trust them and that you respect that they have a life outside of the classroom. If your teachers need to leave campus during their free periods or are unable to stay after dismissal on a regular basis, those factors should not be used against them. Teachers who choose to organize their time so that they don’t need to be at school for a lot of extra hours can be just as dedicated as those who clock a lot of hours on campus.
3. Don’t expect teachers to buy their own classroom supplies
The internet is just too full of horrible stories recounting how so many teachers have to pay for their classroom supplies themselves. As an administrator, you have input into the budget and how monies are allocated. Make sure that simple things like classroom supplies are taken care of and aren’t a financial burden on your teachers. If your school does have a budget crunch, have the entire school, and parents, work together to organize fundraisers or brainstorm other ideas. Don’t let the responsibility for sourcing supplies fall solely on the teachers’ shoulders.
4. Don’t forget to show your appreciation
You may think that your best and brightest teachers “just know” how much you appreciate them, but this may not be the case. It can be something as simple as popping into their class to commend them in front of their class or leaving a quick note in their mailbox acknowledging their efforts. Teachers are just like everyone else in that they like to be appreciated for all that they do for others. Quarterly appreciation events are a great way to bring cohesiveness to the faculty while letting them know that their efforts are appreciated. Something as simple as a coffee and pastry breakfast in the teacher’s lounge to a potluck or catered lunch can make the teachers feel valued and positive about their jobs.
5. Make sure that your teachers don’t think they’re out there on their own
Making sure that your teachers know that you have their back can make a huge difference in the school’s retention rates. When you go out of your way to let all of your faculty members know that you support them and are there for them you may be surprised by the results! There are so many ways to show your support, but the easiest may be telling a teacher that is struggling, “I am here for you”. If there is an issue with a difficult parent, don’t just side with them in the hopes that the situation resolves itself. Chances are that the parent will continue to be difficult and the teacher will now feel alienated and betrayed.
Retaining great teachers can really make the difference in the overall performance of your school and isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Now is the perfect time to think of a variety of ways that you can help the exceptional teachers at your school know that they are appreciated and valued. Don’t wait until it’s too late to recognize the enormous contribution that teachers make and the impact that they have on the success of their students.