Empowering Teachers 1 - Voice

Let’s review. As a school principal, you know what your job is and you know how to do it. We have the same goals, you and I, and we have the same method. This series of posts is not aimed at instruction, it is merely a reminder of what you already know. Here it is: your most important job as the principal of your school is to empower your teachers. Empowering your teachers begins with voice.

First and foremost, your teachers need to know they have a say in school decisions. There is no team leader who can lead a team of individuals without input. That goes for you too. Collaboration is a critical component of effective team management, and this extends to the school too. Make no mistake, your group faculty and staff is a team, and the better the team operates, the more student learning can be positively affected. As the principal, you are the team leader, but that doesn’t mean that you can do it by yourself. And you don’t want to. I’m sure you are already open to collaboration; that’s not entirely what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the perception that you’re open to collaboration.

As great as you are at your job, you don’t generate all of the good ideas by yourself, you don’t implement all of the effective policies, and you don’t affect all of the positive changes. You have a collaborative method, on way or another, but that doesn’t mean your teachers know it. So, empower your teachers by being open about your collaborative method.

Ask your faculty and staff for input on both big and small issues. Admit it when you don’t know how to solve a problem and ask for ideas. Take suggestions even when you do have ideas. Use their ideas instead of your own sometimes. And here’s the most important part: Do it openly. Don’t just use your teachers’ ideas, give them credit when you do. Don’t just ask for ideas and help, do it openly in meetings and via email.

There will most assuredly be times when you have to make executive decisions because you’re privy to information that your teachers do not know. That’s simply part of being the general in your army. But your teachers will feel much more empowered if they have confidence that they have input in the everyday decisions that affect the campus. Teachers are empowered when they feel confident that they have a voice and that it is heard.

Teachers having a voice doesn’t mean that you relinquish decision making responsibilities, and it doesn’t mean you take all of their ideas. You’re the coach of the team, so it’s still ultimately up to you to decide when to make adjustments to the game plan. But your players will certainly play harder for you if you begin to break down the walls of “us” and “them” in your school. The more your teachers see that all of you are on the same team, teachers and administrators together, and they have reasonable input into how things run in the school, the more they will be empowered to do the job you are asking them to do.

Empower your teachers by ensuring they have a voice. Look for our next step in empowering teachers next week!