Dear School Administrator,
Okay, I get it. Your job is hectic and thankless. You spend a good portion of your days dealing with all sorts of issues and are constantly having to update your files with the latest educational acronyms.
However, while we deal with children, we aren’t actually kids ourselves. Granted, a few of us may occasionally act childishly, but most of us are consummate professionals. We just want to be treated the way adults in any other profession would be treated.
Here are a few easy ways you can support teachers.
Let us weigh in on decisions that affect our teaching.
Students spend their days being told what to do, and the best teachers bring them in on the decision-making process. Administrators often point out the importance of teachers involving all “stakeholders” when making things like classroom expectations and assessment rubrics. “Ask the students what they think, and you can increase the level of buy-in,” you say. If this is you, be sure take a page out of your own playbook and support teachers accordingly.
Stop making us play kids’ games.
We love when administrators sponsor a faculty BBQ and set up some cornhole for people who are interested. It is different, however, when we come to an in-service day and are forced to play human foosball, climb through inflatable obstacles, or do other team-building activities that border on uncomfortable. With each revolution of the giant ball, we are just thinking about the tests we have to grade.
Trust that I am using prep time well.
Don’t make me fill out a form outlining what I did during my prep—during my prep time. Cut paperwork out whenever legally possible. We all understand that states mandate a certain amount of clerical work from us, but then there are all the add-ons. A Google doc documenting our thoughts? Just ask us instead. Narratives about how we are using our prep time? Just pop in and check it out. We are not students who need homework.
Believe me when I tell you I was sick.
Don’t ask me for a doctor’s note. Certainly there are people who abuse this system, and they should be addressed. But, people can get stomach viruses on Fridays and Mondays, even when the weather is the nicest it has been all year. On the rare occasion it is our mental health that needs attention, just trust that our overall job performance will improve after a much-needed mental health day.
Send the message to the people who need to hear it.
Sure, I love the ease of email contact groups as much as the next guy, but there are times when only a handful of staff members need a reminder or a gentle reprimand. When those instances occur, don’t send an email to everyone when it is really only meant to address one person.
Your job is a challenging one. We recognize that. All we ask is that you remember we are adults and treat us accordingly.
How does the administration support teachers at your school? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook.
Plus, how to make it to the end of the school year when you’re tired and sad.
I’d love to add one more item: While we are grown-ups, we actually relish the idea of finishing the school year and having a few moments where we can actually “feel” like we are finished. So instead of assigning:
1) next year’s curriculum map with ALL test dates included
2) next year’s first unit lesson plans (in details WITH changes from this past year annotated within the unit plans)
3) next year’s first common assessment
all to be completed less than 24 hours after giving our last exam (that has to be graded)… please give us the time to work on these things without the unreasonable deadline.
I mean are you seriously going to look at all of this over the summer? I hope not, because I intend on working on my classes all summer long and what I give you, in May, when I am exhausted and frustrated isn’t going to be worth the paper I took the time to write it on.