3 Tips for Principals Who Are Ready to Engage Their Teachers in Professional Growth
I remember watching Braveheart for the first time and feeling invincible after William Wallace gave his famous inspirational speech before the final battle - “...they may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!” Who doesn’t want to be that kind of inspirational leader who stirs the passion of their team despite adverse circumstances, right?!
But you’re not in Hollywood, so you can’t just rely on flowery speeches to motivate your people to grow. It requires smart, intentional planning to achieve those goals. Fortunately, it’s a pretty simple formula for what it takes on your part as an administrator to help your teachers grow. Let’s look at 3 simple tips you can use to help your teachers develop sustainable professional growth habits.
Lead your school to be a collaborative, collegial environment where your teachers openly share, learn, and take risks.
Learning walks are a highly effective way for your teachers to learn from one another in a non-evaluative manner. Additionally, here are some quick tips on building a strong, collegial culture and fostering transformative teacher groups. The best part is, you don’t have to do this alone! Consider using your in-school talent to create a leadership team focused solely on achieving and sustaining a collegial environment. There’s also an increasing number of school administrators requesting coaching to help them become stronger instructional leaders in their schools. Bottom line - don’t be afraid to ask for help from others in this area. After all, establishing a collaborative and collegial environment is tough to do if you’re not modeling it as well in your practice.
Individualize the active learning opportunities for your teachers.
Just as every student learns differently, teachers have many different learning styles and face a variety of circumstances in the classroom. You’re probably wondering, “How do I individualize for each teacher?”. You’re already doing most of the work through your classroom walkthroughs and teacher observations. These data will help you better understand where each of your teachers currently are in relation to the different domains and standards in your instructional effectiveness framework for teacher evaluations. You’re missing out if you’re not using a digital solution for your classroom walkthroughs and teacher observations that also offers evidence-based learning experiences tied to the findings. Let’s be honest, your plate is so full it simply won’t get done consistently and with fidelity unless your digital solution does the heavy lifting in this regard.
Support your teachers through the implementation gap.
It’s not enough to send teachers to workshops and seminars a few times each year. Studies have concluded that teachers may need as many as 50 hours of instruction, practice, and coaching before a new teaching strategy is mastered and implemented successfully in class. One way to help your teachers overcome the implementation gap is to create a growth plan which outlines the support and resources needed, who’s offering the support, and when it’s being offered. The support could come from a variety of sources such as admins, coaches, other teachers, and also from software platforms offering growth plans and embedded coaching experiences. This will ensure your teachers are receiving ongoing support throughout the year on their most important growth goals.
Remember - you’re not in this alone! Reach out to others on your team if you need help getting started. True professional growth is an ongoing process that requires your attention and support as the instructional leader in your school, so think of this as a marathon instead of a sprint. You deserve it. Your teachers deserve it. Your students deserve it.