Schools often have a no man’s land that separates the administration and the teachers. I really believe that the bigger the school (student and teacher numbers) the worse it gets. It is unfortunate because these two populations of the school need to be on the same wavelength. They need to become a team. They need to see each other as allies in the drive to help all kids achieve their dreams.
Between a revolving door in the principalship, the role in evaluation, pressures to be visible in the community, requirements to be great at everything like Superman or Wonder Woman, and a push to have all students graduate on time and be able to be accepted at the best universities, a principal can easily become engrossed in what she is doing or needs to get done instead of thinking about her staff and what they think or see or feel.
As a result, some of the teaching staff will develop concerns about their principal. These concerns often fall into four categories: We don’t see you, you make all of the decisions, we meet too much and you don’t appreciate us.
Here are some suggestions for addressing these concerns:
1. We don’t see you
a. Make times during the week where anyone can find you and advertise that location to them (I know a principal who has a working office in the main hallway of his school.)
b. Schedule class visits and make them a part of your calendar that isn’t interrupted.
c. Serve lunch in the cafeteria. (Put on the hairnet and plastic gloves.)
2. You make all of the decisions
a. Create a list of committees that you need and invite anyone and everyone to participate.
b. When you create teams/committees really let the staff members have input. Do not make all of the decisions. Do not come with the solution. Act as a facilitator instead of a dictator.
c. Schedule meetings when anyone can participate.
3. We meet too much. (Faculties need to meet for many reasons, but administrative announcements could be delivered differently.)
a. Try flipping the meeting. Record yourself talking about administrative announcements.
b. Use a blog.
c. Use a webinar type format.
d. Try an audio or video podcast that they can access from their phones.
4. You don’t appreciate us
a. Celebrate successes by creating rituals for your school. For example, buy small versions of symbols of the school and use these as trinkets of appreciation that the faculty give to each other in a meeting where they are encouraged to say something nice or supportive about another staff member.
b. Hold functions to encourage them to let their hair down and destress. Have a party off campus. Provide the food, music, environment, and snacks. Let them bring adult beverages. Invite all staff not just teachers but all staff.
c. Hold holiday celebrations.
d. Cook breakfast for them. Cook lunch or dinner and serve them. All administration participates.
e. Ask what they are concerned about and address what you have the power to change.
f. On work days have a celebration, get what needs to be done and release early.
You can’t please everyone, but it is important to listen and take action.
After all, as leaders we have the ability to do something about most concerns.
Take a chance and do something.