Thursday, July 5, 2018
3 Ways to Inspire Teachers
In my experience, teachers are hungry for inspiration. They are committed to their work, and they see the value in their work... but it can still be draining. They want leaders who will refill their bucket. In my experience, these three strategies can go a long way toward energizing teachers.
Support them. Over the years, it has become clear to me that support is the number one quality that teachers desire in their administrators. They want to know that when things get challenging with a student or dicey with a parent, someone has their back. When teachers feel supported by their administrators, they feel emboldened and empowered. They become more comfortable taking risks. When they are confident in their safety net, they can dare to be spectacular.
Remind them. I believe that every teacher chose this profession because they love kids, and they want to make a difference in their lives. But there are times for every teacher when the "calling" can seem more like a "job." Students can be unruly. Parents can be aggravating. Mandates can be overbearing. And grading can be overwhelming. (Not to mention high stakes tests!) These challenges have the potential to steal the joy of teachers. But they don't have to! It is important for administrators to help teachers keep these challenges in perspective. Good administrators work hard to keep teachers focused on the best interests of students. They continually remind teachers about the value of their work and about their potential to impact children. And teachers who remain mindful of their ultimate purpose, hold on to the passion that fuels their fire.
Show them. The best administrators don't just talk about the importance of teachers collaborating; they collaborate themselves. They don't just ask teachers to try new technology without taking any of their own risks. And they don't just encourage teachers to build relationships with students; they connect with kids too! Few teachers are inspired by administrators who talk a good game but never back it up. Good leaders don't manage from their office; they lead from the hallway... and in the classroom... and in the cafeteria. They are engaged, and they are intentional about setting an example. They are "walking the walk." These administrators are not simply telling teachers the way; they are modeling the way. And teachers will find this type of authenticity inspiring.
When teachers are excited about teaching, their students will be more excited about learning. Good administrators don't hope for positive energy in the school; they bring it, themselves. They don't wait for their teachers to be inspired; they work to inspire them. They realize that they can impact the motivation of their teachers. And they make a difference!