Why You Should Help Teachers Find Their Voice
How listening to and learning from teachers will help you be a better leader.
August 2016, Volume 39, Issue 12
It’s easy to assume that because teachers are skilled communicators and leaders with their students, they should have no issue sharing honest opinions with principals. Despite this, as much as 47 percent of teachers say they don’t have a voice in decision-making at their school, according to the Teacher Voice Report 2010-2014.
Principals need to lead the way in helping teachers find their voice at school. As part of a three-part series on Principal magazine on the power of voice, Russel Quaglia and Lisa Lande shared their tips on how principals can encourage teachers to speak up. They explain that the key to helping teachers use their voice is to listen, learn, and lead:
- Get out of your office. Don’t wait for teachers to come to you with ideas
- Seek out opinions from all your staff, not just the ones who are easiest to hear;
- Take notes on what is being said. Do not rely solely on your memory. This also demonstrates to others that you are truly listening; and
- Build relationships. By putting in the time necessary to make sure everyone is heard.
- Be prepared and willing to learn from others;
- Do not dismiss anyone’s idea just because it does not align with yours;
- Gain clarity—ask questions about things you do not understand; and
- Build trust by learning your teachers’ professional hopes and dreams and determining how to work together to make them a reality.
- Provide teachers the support and time they need to be successful;
- Be present—show your support by working collaboratively with teachers;
- Spend less time directing and more time facilitating; and
- Build momentum—the pace can vary, as long as everyone is moving in a positive direction.
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