Our My Two Cents question this month is: What kind of supports do you need from your superintendent to improve teaching and learning? In addition to the responses printed in the March/April issue of Principal, we received several other principals’ thoughts on this topic:
Jeff Carroll, principal of J. Blaine Blayton Elementary School in Williamsburg, Virginia, lists three key supports: 1) Adequate professional development for both teachers and administrators with regard to teaching and learning (or its various subtopics); 2) Willingness to support administrators when instructional improvement causes cultural “disruptions”; and 3) Patience.
"Superintendents need to support the teaching and learning of our students, teachers, and principals. This can be done in several ways. Superintendents can provide moral support, being visible in the buildings and providing encouragement. They can also provide professional support by ensuring that professional development is a priority and that teachers and principals have the time to meet and discuss best practices and how that can be implemented in classrooms. Of course, the financial support of the superintendent is also needed. As teachers and principals look to provide innovative instructional practices, sometimes additional materials, books, and technologies are needed. We look to the superintendent to remove barriers so that the business of teaching and learning can occur in all classrooms every day," says Jacie Maslyk, principal of Crafton Elementary in Pittsburgh.
Hester Chandley Alfred, assistant principal of Caroline Sibley Elementary School in Calumet, Illinois, offered an extensive list:
- Empathy (remembering what it was like to be a classroom teacher);
- Open door policy (keeping an open mind to ideas from teachers);
- Extensive knowledge base (keeping current with innovative methods and strategies to teach as well as remembering the tried and true);
- Allowing teachers to teach each other (giving teachers time to collaborate within the school and among schools on different techniques they use to educate);
- Staying abreast of the current curriculum and how it's used;
- Giving teachers input into the curriculum (letting them have a voice in what is taught and assessed, as well as how subject matter is assessed);
- Allowing teachers to obtain professional development;
- Forging a relationship with teachers, students, and community members, especially parents; and
- Treating the administrative team as colleagues as opposed to "underlings."
What supports do you need?