Best Advice from Teachers

May 2013, Volume 36, Issue 9

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 610) and National Teacher Day (May 7), NAESP asked principals what they’ve learned from teachers. Teachers’ influence, it turns out, extends far beyond a classroom’s walls. For example, Julie Levensaler, principal of Miller School in Waldoboro, Maine, holds teachers in such high esteem that she believes “The most important thing I’ve learned from a teacher is how to be a good principal.”

Here’s what other school leaders say teachers have taught them:

  • “What haven’t I learned from teachers? Perhaps the best pieces of advice I received—especially when I was a newly appointed principal—were to listen more and speak less; don’t lecture everyone when only a few need it; don’t use faculty meeting for lectures; and encourage noisy classrooms—that’s where the learning is happening.”
    Mark Terry, principal of Eubanks Intermediate School, Southlake, Texas, and NAESP President
  • “Enter a classroom with a smile. And don’t change things that don’t need to be changed.”
    Kaivan Yuen, principal of Jefferson Middle School, San Gabriel, California
  • “A teacher once told me that the best professional development opportunities she ever had were not the ones with a high-priced guru flown in on Staff Development Day, but rather the bite-sized blocks of time she had with grade-level colleagues, planning and sharing with a specific academic focus. This premise—teachers working with and learning from teachers—has always guided me as we implement new initiatives and/or introduce new programs.”
    Don Sternberg, principal of Wantagh Elementary School, Wantagh, New York
  • “The best pieces of advice a couple of amazing teachers gave me as a first year principal were to take the time to document everything; communicate often; and build trust among students, parents, and teachers by being open, honest, and transparent.”
    Gara Field, principal of Pleasant View Elementary School, Providence, Rhode Island
  • “The best teachers in my life have shown me how to learn from others with diverse experiences, higher level knowledge, and heartfelt passions. In doing so, they have added an immeasurable level of depth to my lifelong growth.”
    –Missy Patschke, principal, Upper Providence Elementary School, Royersford, Pennsylvania

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from a teacher? Tell us on Twitter, and make sure to use #thankateacher, the hashtag for Teacher Appreciation Week.

Copyright © 2013 National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP’s reprint policy.

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