I have worked for a few incredible administrators, both at the school level and also at the district level. I have worked for administrators that saw the bigger picture, that always trusted (even if they were scared), that always kept kids first. I have worked for leaders that were visionary in the way they created opportunities for us to grow as educators. That saw each of us on our own learning journey and would ask how they could support rather than tell us which way to go. I am lucky. Not everyone works for leaders like that.
So when I think of what I could share with administrators who are looking to create empowered teachers. When I think of what I could share with those who want to be great, who probably are great, but want to keep growing. When I think of what I could share with some of the amazing administrators that I know are out there, it boils down to a few things.
Don’t be the roadblock. Be the one that sees the bigger picture and encourages teachers to try that new idea, to think new things, and to always ask a lot of questions. If your technology is blocked, ask why. If you keep hearing no from higher up, ask why. Be a questioner yourself, and do not be afraid when educators question the systems they work in, be afraid when they don’t.
Don’t be the dominator. Yes, the world needs your genius, but it also need the genius of others. Be the facilitator of conversation, be the one that gives time for those to happen, not the one that speaks the whole time. If you worry that you may speak too much, time yourself versus how often others speak. I promise you it will be eye-opening.
Be the path that others want to follow, not the one they have to follow. Be a leader that questions themselves, that celebrates the great but also discusses the failures. Create an environment where self-reflection and school reflection is the norm, not just when something goes poorly.
Be someone who supports. Someone who trusts. Someone who sees the good even when it is hard to see. Someone who celebrates and knows when someone needs to be celebrated. Make tough decisions but explain how you make them. Say yes more than you say no, but when you say no explain why.
Invest in choices that will benefit all learners not just the majority. If a teacher has a concern about a program, question the program not just the teacher. make sure kids know your name, know that you are in their corner. Be the one that searches for the bigger story not just the story that is being told. Be curious and be proud of your curiosity. Be proud of your school, be proud of your staff, be proud of your kids. Even if that school is tough. Even those staff members are not perfect, even if those kids make your day as hard as they can. Be proud, be thankful and know that you are never alone. That great leaders always are a part of the team, a part of the community and that they stand on the shoulders of the educators that they lead and the kids that they educator. That your staff needs you as much as you need them.
I have worked for a few incredible leaders who led with their heart, as well as their mind. Who led with everything they had in their pursuit to make school a place that all kids and all adults wanted to be a part of. I am so grateful, I hope that many more educators get to work for leaders like that.