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Advice for First Year School Leaders

Advice for First Year School Leaders

Whitney Green

Whitney Green

Whitney Green is an assistant principal at Ooltewah Elementary in Hamilton County Schools, Chattanooga, TN. She currently leads the implementation of EL K-5th and is taking full advantage of utilizing Kiddom within the classrooms at Ooltewah Elementary as both have positively affected her students success this year. She is excited to share her drive and her experiences with others.

In her first year at a new school, AP Whitney Green shares advice for other school leaders who are new to the job or in their first year at a new location.

Leadership skills are something people are innately born with, or I have found the best leaders seem to be the ones we refer to as, “ natural leaders.” Although effective leaders vary greatly in their approaches, they all have similar traits in common. I am now in my third year as an assistant principal, and have learned so much from my first year to now. I believe any effective leader should be able to reflect, as we are constantly learning from our experiences. Just like teaching, no one faculty or student body is the same, and you will always need to adjust to meet their needs. But there are some foundational skills or knowledge you need to be consistent with as an effective leader.

Set Expectations + Boundaries

First, understand that gaining respect is a real thing. This does not mean you need to spread your feathers and “peacock”, but that you gain respect through your actions. With neither the faculty nor the students knowing who you are, you must establish your expectations from the very beginning. Do not waver! One of the biggest regrets I have is that I would make a decision and then change my mind due to a teacher persuading me. This is also an important lesson to learn with teachers, parents, and students, as they always want a decision made right away. Take your time! You need to collect all information and facts about a situation before making any decisions. Trust me, they will try and corner you and guilt you into getting information or making a rash decision, but don’t do it! My worst mistakes have been from making a rash decision. I like to use the saying, “trust and verify” with any process; don’t ever assume!

I also found that I gained a lot of ground through listening, not participating in gossip or a rant fest, but simply hearing the stakeholders of the school. This included parents, teachers, and students. Always have an open door policy, allowing your colleagues to feel comfortable speaking with you about concerns or even merely asking questions.

I did get to know teachers and would relate to them, but there are boundaries with this. Do not overshare, but being relatable is not a bad thing. Again, you need to always remember you are their boss, and leadership is held to a higher standard. When listening to others share, it does not mean you have to agree, as I recommend trying to stay neutral, but just let them feel heard. Stakeholders will try to play you against the principal, to discover if there are holes or create a divide. Same concept as playing mom and against dad. Your number one rule at the end of the day is to stay loyal to and supportive of the principal, regardless of differences of opinions. No one can ever know how you feel about decisions made by the principal. This is key! This will be hard, but just work on having a good poker face.

Leadership is a lonely job, and you are not there to be their friend. Please hear me say this: it is not a popularity contest. Be prepared to have thick skin, as you will never be able to make everyone happy with decisions or choices made. One veteran leader whom I respect dearly gave me the best advice: make all decisions based on students. This takes out the personal feelings or decisions based on adults. Since using this as my guide when making decisions, it has allowed me to stay consistent. If you work on an administrative team, these are the only people you need to confide in. Do not hang out with teachers or parents outside the school as this only makes things messy. Social media also plays into this, as you do not want to be friends with parents, faculty, or students on your personal accounts. I have seen this happen too many times where administrators have crossed this line and lost their jobs, even when it was innocent.

Be Open to Learning + Part of the Community

Honestly, things will happen and mistakes will be made. The best advice I have is to always learn from them. The worst thing that can happen to you as a leader is that you stop growing or always assume you are right. Also, I have seen this happen time and time again, do not lead with an iron first. I recall first year leaders want to assume their role and immediately gain respect, and they do this by abruptly asserting themselves this way. There is a time and place when you will have to be firm, otherwise listening and gaining as much information as possible is the best way to handle situations.

Being visible is also critical. This includes during morning and afternoon car/bus duty, lunch duty, sitting in classrooms, etc. I know when I was a teacher, I always appreciated administrators that would come in, not because they had to do a formal observation, but just because they had to spend time in the classroom. Even though this can be very challenging, as you are pulled in many directions, it goes along with both teachers and students, so I recommend trying to make time for this.

The last piece of valuable information I can give is to find a reliable support group. This could be veteran administrators or any administrator with whom you respect and have a relationship. During my first year as an administrator, there were two veteran administrators who counseled me through my whole first year. I can honestly say they helped me through my first year in order to survive, and I utilized their knowledge to make decisions. They knew more about the politics and legal side of education than I did, so there were many opportunities for me to reach out in need of advice.

The first year of anything will be something in which you look back and go, “what was I thinking?”. I know through my experiences, my worst mistakes have been my best learning experiences that have helped me grow and develop into the leader I am today. I know I have a long journey ahead, but am excited to see where it takes me. The goal at the end of the day, when you lay your head on your pillow, is to say that you have done right by the students of your school.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

 

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

You might also be interested in these articles:

Engage – Using Data to Support Teacher Accountability

Engage – Using Data to Support Teacher Accountability

Whitney Green

Whitney Green

Whitney Green is an assistant principal at Ooltewah Elementary in Hamilton County Schools, Chattanooga, TN. She currently leads the implementation of EL K-5th and is taking full advantage of utilizing Kiddom within the classrooms at Ooltewah Elementary as both have positively affected her students success this year. She is excited to share her drive and her experiences with others.

Digital tools can help to keep everyone organized and even enable targeted instruction. But they can also provide rich data that supercharges every step in the instructional cycle. Here are some ways to use data to support teachers and keep them accountable during this busy season!

Inspect what you expect

One of the worst things you can do is expect something from your teachers but you don’t actually ever inspect it. Teachers become accustomed to administrators giving guidelines or expectations, but following through to make sure it is being done seems to be uncommon. Administrators become bogged down in day to day operations and can find themselves spread too thin.

Administration needs to make it a priority to ensure the time and effort they are expecting teachers to make on something, they too are doing the same. For example, I am at a new school where lesson plans have never been required. I was a little shocked to hear this, but the reality is, there are schools everywhere that operate without lesson plans. So as an administrative team, we have made it a requirement to have lesson plans uploaded to a shared Google Drive folder. We are not checking the lesson plans daily, as this would take all of our time. Instead, when we go into classrooms for observations, we are able to pull up their lesson plans. Can I tell you right now that all of the teachers have developed lesson plans? The answer is no. But, we are creating accountability with this new system because we are able to address their lack of lesson planning or provide feedback on how to improve their lesson plans.

This also supports our requirement of collaboratively planning at least twice a week with their teammates. When we observe multiple teachers in the same department and see drastically different lessons, we also have conversations around this. I believe next year we are going to take this a step further. Each administrator will check a set of lesson plans each Monday. This is not to scour them with a fine tooth comb, but rather to make sure they are planned and uploaded in time. This tip actually came from a friend of mine who also is a high school administrator.

Engagement data

I am the type of administrator that likes to be very clear and specific in what I am expecting. For example, creating expectations for how often and how we are using specific programs/resources we are requiring of them to use. The great part about technology today is that all programs typically have an administrator account. This allows leaders to be able to track how often teachers are utilizing the program. With programs like Kiddom and Mastery Connect, I have set specific parameters around how often and how we are using these programs. Both platforms were purchased by our district and I actually had the privilege of vetting both platforms. Knowing the value of both, I do require teachers to use them on a daily basis. I am able to track how often teachers are using the platforms as I have access to see the usage. This is a great benefit to both of these platforms. I know some may think it is overkill or that I’m being too controlling, but the reality is without setting requirements, a new technology program may never be implemented or used. I know as a teacher, sometimes I needed that push otherwise I probably never would have done it on my own. There is a “but” here, if you do have requirements like this. You have to train them and provide support throughout the year, otherwise it is an unrealistic expectation. I will talk more about this training in a later section of this article, Proactive PD.

Personalization data

One of my favorite sayings is, data doesn’t lie. Data takes the personal out of it and it typically tells a story. Anytime we get data back from a district benchmark assessment, we will have individual meetings with each teacher around their data. We set goals with them and focus on both what best practices they should keep or what they need to do differently. We also set team goals, and we are provided data that allows for individual teacher growth and team growth. We often hear from teachers, “my students are different and they need different things than the other classes.” This is true to a certain degree. I sometimes hear this from teachers who struggle to collaboratively plan as they tend to not maximize their time during planning. The teacher must be able to identify the needs of their students through data. Being prescriptive with their students is part of personalization data.

Standard mastery data

Teachers nowadays have the gift of standards-based mastery data that was not available to me when I was a teacher. I honestly would have been a way better teacher if I had this as an option. There are so many programs and platforms that allow for teachers to collect real time data that is aligned directly with the standards. It takes the guesswork out of creating assessments that you think may align with the standards. Based on our state data, we were not doing a great job at this.

Kiddom is one platform we have specifically utilized within our district that does standard based assessments, providing data on the effectiveness of mastery towards the standards. In our district, we have standards based report cards for K-2nd. These report cards have to be one of the toughest and most time consuming parts of teaching in the primary grades. K-2nd teachers dread when report cards are due for this reason. Using the standards-based mastery reporting takes the guesswork out of knowing how and where a student is progressing. We utilize our benchmark data to fill out our report cards as they align directly with our state standards. There has been a lot of conversation around 3rd-12th having standards based reporting, as right now, they just receive a percentage grade. I am now an administrator in a high school, and I can honestly say that I do not believe we are accurately scoring students based on the standards, but more of a completion grade.

Proactive PD

If you are going to require teachers to utilize specific platforms or programs, then you need to provide heavy training on the front end, and throughout the year. A lot of these new programs only provide teachers with basic training at the beginning of the school year, with no support throughout. This is a disservice to the teachers and the students. It would be like asking someone to be good at riding a bike with only one day of training which is completely unrealistic.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

 

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

You might also be interested in these articles:

Tools & Tips to Help Teachers & Students With Test Prep

Tools & Tips to Help Teachers & Students With Test Prep

Whitney Green

Whitney Green

Whitney Green is an assistant principal at Ooltewah Elementary in Hamilton County Schools, Chattanooga, TN. She currently leads the implementation of EL K-5th and is taking full advantage of utilizing Kiddom within the classrooms at Ooltewah Elementary as both have positively affected her students success this year. She is excited to share her drive and her experiences with others.

AP Whitney Green shares tools and tips to help teachers and admins with test prep.

It's that time of year, testing season is just around the corner… use these tools and tips to keep teachers and students feeling prepared! Below is a list of specific items that are tried and true to support students' mastery of the standards in order for them to be successful with test prep.

Assess, assess, assess!

Assessing I think sometimes is a misconception to teachers as they feel it always has to be a formal assessment. This is a myth. Assessing could be done as you scan the room, using select and sequence to highlight specific information you want shared with the whole class that the student you select presents. This also can be a great time to also highlight common misconceptions you uncover as you scan the room.

Using both informal and formal data supports how we adapt our instruction to meet the needs of the students before a test. Exit tickets are my favorite! I used to use exit tickets at the end of every lesson. It was quick and easy. I would pass out cut lined paper, pretty small in size, and the student would work out their problem on it. This worked well for math, but can also work for ELA. You will just need a passage they can sight in order to show their thinking.

Identifying in advance standards that students are struggling with allows the teacher to adapt their teaching and create small groups based on this information. Once you collect the exit tickets, sort them into 3 piles. Got it, Some understanding, and Needs more support. Use this information for your warm-ups. Work directly with those who need More Support, and pair up the Got It students with the Some Understanding group. Utilize your students for this support! I think sometimes we limit our students by not utilizing them for peer support. Students sharing and working with one another on test prep allows them to hear and see the material in a different way.

Review daily!

Providing daily review of material at the beginning or end of a lesson is critical. Part of the success with students mastering standards is to constantly review material, always keeping material fresh in their minds. I cannot stress this enough that reviewing is the ultimate key to successful test prep. Make sure your review is short each day and only focus on one or two standards a day. I also recommend spending this time reviewing the same standards for the entire week, rather than changing up the standards daily.

Provide quizzes made from test questions during bell work each day.

In the first 15 minutes of class, students can jump on a tool like Kiddom to test their knowledge, and Kiddom will auto-grade the assignments so your skills reports will update automatically. This is a quick and efficient way to collect data that can easily be adapted to meet the needs of your students. Teachers can barely keep up with their current workload, so adding more to their daily plate needs to be something that they find value in.

Kiddom allows the teacher to easily assign a standards based assessment that can be auto-graded! Who would have ever thought that assessing students would be so easy? When reviewing the results, it will break down the information in order to see what standards are mastered and what standards still need to be covered. Kiddom also allows you to group students so you can differentiate the assessments moving forward. A time saver and it aligns with your state standards! Is there anything better?

Hold a "practice test" through a tool like Kiddom.

Research has actually shown doing a “bootcamp” for test prep is not effective, even though it seems teachers gravitate to this style of review. Using practice tests throughout the quarter/semester can be used as milestones along the way. For these practice tests, I would recommend 8-10 questions. This is enough questions to gauge the different standards you are assessing on as more of a summative assessment.

Another misconception I have found is that teachers develop 20 questions tests that may only cover a few standards. This is unnecessary. If you have a curriculum coach in your building, this is a great way to utilize them when working with teams to create common assessments together. Also, make sure you are using questions that align with the big assessment coming up. We always want to prepare our students and throughout the years, we have found our students tend to struggle with the types of questions, rather than the content.

Set up a test using a tool that autogrades to save your teachers a few steps when it comes to grading. What's great is any one of your admins with access to the Kiddom account will be able to view how students are testing in each class.

Previewing Material

This is a newer strategy I have used that I honestly was skeptical about. I never knew the power in previewing material for students who tend to struggle. I look at it like this, instead of always being a lap behind others as material is presented to them for the first time, they get the advantage of seeing it early so they can engage with the material. We have offered after-school Previewing for students to access material a week in advance. This allows students time to work with the same material, coming into class feeling confident in their abilities thanks to adequate test prep.

Huddle up!

Small groups are vital when preparing for tests/assessments. Using small groups is differentiated instruction at its finest. Creating small groups should be fluid as students will move in and out of groups based on their needs. Those that forever keep the same groups of students together are not adapting to that student. While in these small groups, using the I do, we do, you do strategy has to be one of the best methods to allow for real time data. During the you do portion, you can assess and see student understanding independently to then make decisions for students who now have a better understanding of the standard. Those who still are unable to solve the problem independently will stay with you longer. Again, real time data!

Conclusion

I can promise you, if you are proactive vs. reactive to your reviewing for big tests, students will be better off. I like to say that we are being prescriptive to our students. I know some may say, will this work for a certain demographic or type of student, the answer is no. I have used this method with different demographics of students and it has always worked. Also, working with teachers on these different is also key when discussing these tips. Do not expect teachers to automatically know how to implement these strategies, as I know from my own experience, they usually don't. Providing PD or individual support during their collaborative planning meetings is a great time to review these ideas. Creating common assessments together as a team is also critical, in order to decrease variability among the teachers. During these meetings, create these exit tickets together. In order to meet the needs of their individual students, they may have to create some assessments on their own, but the majority should be created as teams. Next steps would be to bring student samples to meetings and review the data. This is a great time to share ideas on how they are effectively meeting the needs of their students with specific standards. Just remember the two P’s, proactive and prescriptive.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

 

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

You might also be interested in these articles:

Considerations When Choosing a Math Curriculum

Considerations When Choosing a Math Curriculum

Whitney Green

Whitney Green

Whitney Green is an assistant principal at Ooltewah Elementary in Hamilton County Schools, Chattanooga, TN. She currently leads the implementation of EL K-5th and is taking full advantage of utilizing Kiddom within the classrooms at Ooltewah Elementary as both have positively affected her students success this year. She is excited to share her drive and her experiences with others.

Choosing a math curriculum is possibly one of the most important things you can do for your learning community, and in a post-pandemic world, there are a few new considerations to add to the usual list.

Choosing a math curriculum is never easy, especially in larger districts or diverse communities. Is there ever really a one-size-fits-all curriculum for any district? When everyone pivoted into a remote learning setting, this decision only became more difficult – We've all had curriculums that are only available in print, from the teacher materials to the student textbooks.

The way we choose a math curriculum needs to be revisited in a post-pandemic world, so today we're go over some new considerations to keep in mind during the process. After having implemented various platforms and curriculums, I have some experience to share in this area.

 

Emphasize Stakeholder Input Over Cost-Efficiency

So often, when districts make purchasing decisions without stakeholder input, those decisions are based more on the cost, versus how the curriculum meets the needs of the teachers and students. I highly recommend, if possible, forming a group of stakeholders to evaluate the different curriculums that are available for adoption, preselected by the district.

I can say from my own experience that when a math curriculum was purchased based on cost efficiency, it was lacking – it was not aligned with our state standards, nor did it have any rigor. Our district ended up developing their own lessons in addition to the curriculum.

If you have the option to be a part of a pilot, do it! Allow teachers to be involved in these decisions, researching and selecting the curriculum they feel would benefit their students most. Honestly, you have nothing to lose, as everyone will be learning a new curriculum, and your teachers could potentially have a head start in this process if the curriculum in which you piloted is selected.

Consider Flexibility in Both, Print and Digital Materials

With blended learning becoming imperative, math curriculums must have an online option, as students and teachers need to be able to access the material anywhere. This digital access will also save on copies – many schools have a copy limit due to the amount of money that is spent on copy paper, ink, and copy machines.

While it’s key to have the curriculum available in both, print and digital format, consider too the availability of in-person and digital math tools. Online platforms are now able to offer features such as online rulers, erasers, white boards, calculators, manipulatives, etc. This is vital when making your selection, as these materials are a necessity for student success. The online whiteboard feature where students can show their work just as if they were using a real whiteboard or paper is amazing!

Ensure Professional Development Courses & Materials Are Offered

How many of you have ever experienced getting a box of textbooks and teacher guides in your classroom without any guidance on how to implement? I think I have had this happen more than once when I was a teacher. As we all know, these textbooks often end up in either the teacher's closet or inside the students' desks collecting dust.

When a district chooses a new curriculum without any support or training materials, it comes across to most learning communities as an attempt to check the box that the district is in compliance with adopting a new curriculum, per state mandate. Why waste the resources?

I have found the most successful purchases our district has made are the ones that provide meaningful PD that is offered often, not just at the beginning of the school year or once in the summer. The more we can train and provide access for support, the more confident educators will be to use it.

two educators working together

Check That the Curriculum's Standards are Aligned With Your State

This is critical, especially in a math course. I have experienced curriculums that were not aligned with the state standards, then making the lessons useless.

As a teacher, you are trusting that your district will purchase a curriculum that is actually usable, with lessons aligning to state standards.

Ask What Resources are Available for All Learners

As districts can be quite large and have a variety of demographics, it is imperative to ensure a new math curriculum is accessible for all students. Otherwise teachers are forced to spend valuable time modifying the lessons.

When I was a teacher, I experienced curriculums that did not meet the needs of the students I was teaching and I spent exorbitant amounts of time modifying the lessons to meet the needs of my students, from adding in more rigorous activities to providing more scaffolds and previewing. This takes time away from teaching!

Ensure the Curriculum Has Rigor via Assessments, Questions, & Independent Practice

Choosing a math curriculum that aligns with state standards is a great start but it's only half of the battle. Rigor should not be limited, no matter what types of schools makeup your district. All students deserve the best and to be challenged. Look for rigorous measures that challenges students and checks their understanding.

A math curriculum also needs to include within the lessons questions ranging from concrete to abstract. I think this is a challenge for many math curriculums as many just include concrete types of problems, that we like to call "naked problems". The curriculum needs to embed real world word problems, multi-step, require a model, etc. Problem-based learning is a now an integral part of our students understanding of math.

Virtual PD session

Make Sure SEL is a Core Component in the Curriculum

The pandemic has pushed many districts and school leaders to reevaluate curriculums to support all students, both face-to-face and virtually.  More students are experiencing depression and anxiety, and struggling as they sit behind screens (phones, computers, tv) to deal with problems, make friends, socialize, etc.

After this last year and a half, they may not be as equipped to have face-to-face conversations or express themselves in a healthy way. With these issues on most educators' minds today, it is no wonder SEL has become a key factor when choosing curriculum.

 

In Closing...

Again, choosing a curriculum is something that needs to be top priority. When a curriculum is purchased, it typically is under contract for about six years. Why waste six years on a curriculum that doesn't support students or teachers? Hopefully with this list in hand, you'll reconsider. If there is anything I have learned in my ten plus years in education is the need for these key components to be included. I also have found that teacher buy-in is key. When choosing to pilot or adopt a curriculum, allow teachers to be a part of this process, allowing them to research which curriculum they prefer to pilot or adopt. Even though it does not guarantee that what they prefer is chosen, it allows them to feel heard and respected as the professionals they are. Remember, these are the people who will be using these materials on a daily basis. The deserve to be included!

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

 

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

You might also be interested in these articles:

Connect – Building a Culture of SEL in Your Learning Community

Connect – Building a Culture of SEL in Your Learning Community

Whitney Green

Whitney Green

Whitney Green is an assistant principal at Ooltewah Elementary in Hamilton County Schools, Chattanooga, TN. She currently leads the implementation of EL K-5th and is taking full advantage of utilizing Kiddom within the classrooms at Ooltewah Elementary as both have positively affected her students success this year. She is excited to share her drive and her experiences with others.

This article is the second of three in our "Get Set, Connect, Engage!" Back to School Series for School Leaders. Today we're focusing on how administrators can Connect with teachers and staff by building a culture of SEL for their community. We will update the other blogs here as each is published:

At my school this year, we have had more resignations than any other year I've been in education. Educators are exhausted and burnt out, and many have decided to leave education for another career. 

The beginning of the school year is a critical time when setting the tone for faculty and staff, and the pandemic brings great emphasis on the need to support our faculty socially and emotionally this year. But the question on many of our minds right now is, how do school leaders support our teachers emotionally while still remaining energized and passionate ourselves?

As they say, it takes a village. Strengthening the social emotional connections in your community can go a long way towards improving overall morale and all of the support systems in place. I believe the first step as leaders is recognizing what your building needs – every school has their own unique climate, and it is the school leaders' job to keep a pulse on community needs. Though these needs may vary school to school, I believe most of the following community-building ideas can be used to help any school build greater connections through a culture of SEL.

1. Foster Community-Building Activities

Activities should allow faculty and staff to have time discussing important topics that will relate to the school year ahead, while also providing time for them to get to know one another. Larger schools are the most challenging to create unity, as many rarely get a chance to meet each other or even know everyone on the staff.

Not everything has to be school-related! Finding opportunities for teachers to release stress and anxiety is important too. Food Truck Fridays are a new idea we came up with that have brought excitement to our faculty. This year we are also going to offer after school workout sessions, probably twice a week with a certified personal trainer.

Learn more about why social emotional learning skills are so crucial in the COVID-19 era in this on-demand webinar.

2. Provide Opportunities to Highlight Teachers

Providing opportunities to highlight teachers who are going above and beyond, from attending athletic events to turning in all of their paperwork on time, can be a great way to build community and morale. You could even show your appreciation through gifts such as jeans passes, an employee of the month/week award, a feature on the morning announcements/news, etc.

Again, you want teachers to walk away feeling valued, regardless of what the data shows or even initiatives you have, you need to value your teachers if they are to trust you as their leader. In order to be a true leader, you must have people following you, otherwise you are just out for a walk. 

two educators working together

3. "Being Human" Event Committees

Committees are another great way to support teachers and staff. We currently have a committee that specifically focuses on providing fun opportunities for our teachers as well as handling life events such as funerals, weddings, baby showers, etc.

I believe making teachers and staff feel special and appreciated is key to building social and emotional support. Our administrative team also makes a point to celebrate EVERY faculty member's birthday. I know this sounds like a lot, but is truly doable and goes a long way with your faculty. We put all the birthdays on the master calendar and then take time out of our day to go at some point to sing and present them with a birthday card with either a Chick-fil-a or Starbucks gift card. Again these are just ideas, but I can say from experience, they have worked for us. 

4. Reimagine the Faculty Meeting

One new initiative we're carrying out this year is Motivational Mondays: we are essentially rebranding our faculty meetings as Motivational Monday Meetings. Reimagining a tired tradition all begins with giving it a new name. At the beginning of every meeting, we'll start with something positive by asking faculty to share something good that is going on, has happened, will happen, etc.

Having ice breakers and light moments when hosting faculty meetings with heady info sessions will be vital this year, as you don't want to "drill and kill" your teachers with hours of information or too much sitting around. Be mindful to provide opportunities for the faculty to get up and move around, having activities ready that still align with your focus . 

Virtual PD session

5. Keep Open Lines of Communication

As leaders, we need to keep faculty aware of things that are happening and gain their insight when needed. A faculty I used to work with shared that one of the things they appreciated most was the fact we communicated with them regularly, always keeping them in the loop and gaining their insight on building-level decisions. I think the pandemic supported an environment where communication was key. I think I had forgotten as an administrator how much teachers appreciated open lines of communication.

 

This school year is a special one and should not be taken lightly or for granted. Teachers need validation that the work they did last year, regardless of state scores, was meaningful and noticed. We are all a bit more seasoned after last year, and we are stronger than ever. It is crucial to build strong relationships too, because they are the fiber of our community.

This back to school season needs to be empowering and inspiring, no matter what the data says. Teachers feeling valued is critical to the success of the school. Tough conversations will be had and high expectations will be set, but it all needs to start with teachers feeling empowered to take on these challenges, because their work is too important.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

 

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

You might also be interested in these articles: