Tip #9 from Kara Knollmeyer says to validate and honor talents.
In Kara’s book, Unleash Talent, she says
There is a difference between being valued and feeling valued.
Our school is going through a rather unique year to Jordan District. At Herriman High, we are losing a number of our students to a new high school that is opening up next year in Herriman. This means that even though there is a teacher shortage nationwide, we are reducing in size and have to let teachers go. This has created an environment that is not always the healthiest. While as an administration team we have strived to be as transparent as possible in the process, there are a number of things that cannot be made public during the process.
I bring this up so you can understand the back story to a conversation I had with a teacher just a couple of weeks ago. This teacher wanted to know if they needed to attend the upcoming teacher transfer fair, which meant they were afraid that they’re going to lose their job. Unfortunately, we cannot disclose that information until a preset date, so I was unable to answer their question. They finally said, “well, it’d be nice if you just let us know that we are doing a good job and you appreciate us.” This statement caught me off guard because this teacher is a phenomenal teacher that I highly value at Herriman High. It was crucial feedback to me that I need to ensure my teachers hear from me, that I value what they are doing and they are doing a good job.
Just as teachers can’t effectively teach their students until the students know they care, school administrators cannot effectively lead their employees until those employees know their administrators are invested in their well-being.
We need to let not only our students know we care, but we also need to let our employees know.
There is a great quote in The Innovators Mindset by George Couros. He pulls the quote from Simon Sinek (who we’ll hear from again later) and it’s spot on.
We need to build more organizations that prioritize the care of human beings. As leaders, it is our sole responsibility to protect our people and, in turn, our people will protect each other and advance the organization together. As employees or members of the group, we need the courage to take care of each other when our leaders don’t. And in doing so, we become the leaders we wish we had. —Simon Sinek
This is something I have heard from my principal many times. He feels one of the most important aspects of his job is to protect his teachers. Protect them from unnecessary distractions and interruptions, whether they are from outside or internal sources.
An oft-repeated (sometimes too oft) quote says that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I believe it is used so much because it is a universal truth. I don’t care where you work or what you do, this applies to you. How much more so in our profession of educating young people. This is often said in regards to teachers and students. But I liken this to my position from administrator to teacher. In a school over 100+ teachers, how can I do this?
I read an excellent piece about how principals can show teachers they care. My favorite excerpt included a quote from Richard Branson.
If you focus on your teachers’ happiness, you’ll not only get happier teachers who will treat students the way you want them treated and will come back year after year, but you’ll also get more effective teaching.
This is something I constantly think about because one of my core principals is to be a champion for all students. Can I be the champion for students while still being the champion for my teachers? I always ask myself if they are mutually exclusive to each other or not. I’ll probably have an entire blog post dedicated to this at some time, as it is something I need to process and think through.
One thing I know from my own personal experience as a teacher, being valued by my boss made a big difference.
When reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek I was reminded about this. He spends a good chunk of time talking about how focusing on employees will make a company more successful than focusing on customers. I couldn’t help but think about this in regards to a school, more specifically, teachers vs students.
A recent tweet of mine that resonated with friends is about showing appreciation to teachers. And it might be just the way to connect with my 100 teachers to let them know I care. I read it in an article by Jan Richards. What a simple idea that could make a difference. As a teacher, I would have loved to come back from lunch, the copy room, or wherever to find a note of confidence from my administrator.
I hope my teachers not only know that I value them, but also feel like I value them. Even with the difficulties we’re having with reducing our staff.
I am going to make a better effort to seek out the strengths of my teachers, and encourgage them. Let them know that I am aware of their strengths and seek to support them however I can.