People are your school. People are the system. People make things happen. — George Couros, author of The Innovator’s Mindset
Just as each leaf, each branch, each root and piece of bark contributes to the beauty of this tree, so does each member contribute to making a school what it is. Great schools not only draw out the best from their people, but celebrate their talents and encourage growth.
Schools are full of teacher-experts: experts in their fields, experts in pedagogy, experts in collaboration or organization, even experts in some activity or hobby. Here are some thoughts as to how you can nurture those experts and their talents to create a great school.
In-source your Professional development
Of course outside workshops and expensive consultants have a place within education, but don’t forget that your in-house experts would love to have an opportunity to share their knowledge and passions. If they’re like me, though, they don’t always know what they have to offer. Take notice when you see talents and ask your staff to lead a workshop on your next in-service day.
One size does not fit all. Teachers have different interests and different experience levels. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) foster collaborative learning among like-minded colleagues within a particular field and can be formed around any topic or purpose. Our school has about 10 PLCs (bloggers, change-makers, communicators, service-oriented, etc), which meet approximately once a month to discuss ways that we can improve our own teaching, the kids’ learning experiences and our schools. Though the process can be slow, there’s a beauty in meeting with people across departments and curricula to talk about those things that we are passionate about.
Got a tip you want to share? A cool web-site or tool you found? Why not make a short video to share with your colleagues. We call it “Two-Minute PD“, two minute videos which we show once a week during staff meetings and share on Twitter and our website. Check it out under the hashtag #2MinPD.
It’s a waste to hire for strength and evaluate for weakness.
10 Performance Conversation Startershttps://t.co/0lxSKVAcUe
— Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak) April 30, 2017
Move away from teacher evaluation and toward teacher mentorship. Why not pair teachers with similar yearly goals and support opportunities for them to observe and grow together? Or pair a new teacher with one with more experience?
The staff that plays together, stays together. A supportive staff doesn’t happen by accident; they have to like and respect each other. Support collegiality with great coffee in the staff room and the occasional happy hour.
Stagnation doesn’t just come from boredom. If teachers are afraid, they will never try new things. They need the freedom to experiment with ideas; the freedom to fail and reflect before they succeed. A supportive, collegial environment is so important for new ideas to flourish. If something went well, offer a high five. If a lesson flopped, offer a hug and help your colleague talk through ways to improve it next time.
I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way — Lee Iacocca, former Chairman of The Chrysler Corporation
Trust that you’ve hired professionals and that those professionals will do their jobs. Teachers will be in class when they need to be and they will be prepared–20 teenaged judges ensure that on a daily basis. You know they’re working nights and weekends, so it’s okay if they come in a bit late or leave mid-day to go for a walk or take an extra coffee break. The freedom to be human goes a long way toward establishing a contented, dedicated staff.
And don’t forget to celebrate greatness whenever you see it. High fives and specific, positive praise go along way toward honoring your most important asset: People.
Thank you to George Couros for the inspiration: People Are Always Your Best Resource
midway by Niki Chan
287:365 – Joyful Girls by charamelody