We asked teachers to share what they believe to be the most important qualities in a school leader. Here is the best advice any school leader is ever going to get.
1. Trust and protect your teachers. As much as you can, create the conditions that will allow them to do their best work. Support your teachers and let their classroom expertise play a part in your decision-making process.
2. Stay connected to the classroom. Spend at least 3 hours (half a day) guest-teaching each and every semester. It will earn you teachers’ and kids’ respect and make you a better administrator.
3. Build up your educators. Know the different strengths of your teaching staff and make the most of them. If you see weaknesses in performance, don’t just criticize, look for ways to help teachers improve.
4. Have teachers’ backs. If parents have a concern, encourage them to meet with their child’s teacher before coming to you. This should go without saying, but here it is: Don’t take a student’s or parent’s version of events without having an open discussion with the teacher involved.
5. Don’t play favorites—either with teachers or with students. Just don’t!
6. Hold the line on discipline. Set school-wide standards and stick to them. Don’t override teachers’ decisions.
7. Respect teachers’ time. Don’t hold a staff meeting to share upcoming calendar items that you could easily put in an email. Don’t schedule PD the day before grades are due.
8. Be accessible. Don’t stay in your office. Know your students, your staff and your school so well that you can recognize and help to solve a small problem before it becomes a big crisis.
9. Have high expectations for all. Your commitment to great teaching and a positive learning environment will set the tone for teachers and for students.