Teachers vs. Principals What Each Wishes the Other Knew
Teachers vs. principals. Both are necessary for a school to be successful. But, they don’t always see eye to eye. What if each side could tell the other what they need? Freely, openly, and without consequence. What would they say? What would they find? Perhaps, that they need each other more than they know, and have more in common than they first realized. Perhaps they would discover how important they are to their schools’ success and that there is a lot that they don’t see. And, perhaps both sides would be motivated to take new actions to bridge relationships and move together toward common goals.
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Teachers want to be seen and treated like the professionals they are. They need to know that their administration trusts their teaching decisions and will support them. Trust is a key factor in building strong staff relationships.
Principals want to be seen as serving the good of the whole school. They need their staff to accept their intentions are to make the best teaching, learning, and working experience for everyone. Principals need buy-in. Just like teachers need students to get on board in order to make progress, so do principals.
Meetings & Time
Teachers schedules are hectic. Their jobs are never done and when meetings are scheduled without a clear purpose and during high-demand times (like during begining-of-the-year or conference preparation) they long for more planning time and less meetings.
Staff meetings aren’t always under the discretion of the principal. Often there are district and even state mandates that require the time of both principal and staff. No principal started their career to hold meetings and often the main purpose of getting everyone together is to inform and motivate the staff.
Teachers NEED to feel acknowledged. This doesn’t apply to just some teachers, some of the time. This is universal. Many teachers are underappreciated, under-respected, and overworked, and everyone appreciates having their hard work recognized. Whether it is a note in the mailbox, a comment in the hall, a chat in the office, or even an email – let teachers know that you see them.
Like any leader, being the last to know the ship is going down is not the place a principal wants to be. Therefore if there is a legitimate issue or something just isn’t going well communication is key.
Teachers appreciate autonomy. They want to be, and should be, decision-makers in their classrooms. They handle a lot, much more than any outside observer can fathom, but they also need to know that their principal is there. When it comes to serious infractions, major incidents, and excalated conflicts teachers want the principal to take a stand, be the bad guy/gal, and back them.
A principals job can be a lot – and from an outsider’s perspective it’s hard to see the number of plates being spun at once. Principals want to know that when they are called away to handle an issue that everything can still run just fine. They want to have faith in their staff to work autonomously and carry on in their absence – knowing they would rather there.
Teachers & Principals
Teachers and principals share many things in common. Beyond their passion for the success of their students – they both have hard jobs. They are often tired, but they show up every day, ready to take on the world, they build bridges, develop relationships, and work tirelessly. They do this because they care, deeply and want everyone to succeed.
What It All Means
We need to remember we are all on the same team. No one ever got into education for selfish reasons. It’s easy to get caught up in what we need and how everything is impacting us and forget to see the whole picture. Sure there are exceptions to the rule, overwhelmed and over-stressed teachers, administrators who have checked out, but for the most part we all need to cut each other a little slack and remember that everyone is working hard, everyone cares, and think of things we can do to make each other’s loads a little lighter and each other’s days a little brighter.
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