Several years ago, I saw a short video by Robyn Jackson about supporting struggling teachers. In the video she asked a very important question. “If I expect my teachers to never give up on students, why would I ever give up on a teacher?”. It really got me thinking about ways that we support (or fail to support) teachers. I began to think of the language and strategies that we use for students and wondered why we don’t apply these to teachers as well.
Here are some of the phrases that we often use for students: All means all, give them voice and choice, empower them, never give up on them. What if we replaced the word students with teachers? It’s not about having the right people on the bus, it’s about making sure the bus with all our staff is going in the right direction.
When students are struggling, we use the pyramid model of intervention and provide multi-tiered systems of support. Why don’t we do the same with teachers? Most teachers would fall into the green or base of the pyramid. A few might be in the yellow or struggle in one specific area. With a little coaching, they move right back into the effective green range. If a teacher is in the red zone or ineffective, they may need targeted coaching, training, and mentoring. We use data and interventions for struggling students, why not for teachers?
For me, the big question in supporting struggling teachers is “Why?”. Why are they struggling? Is it because they lack specific skills, do they struggle with relationship building, are they dealing with personal issues that keep them from focusing on students, or are they simple burned out and in need of inspiration? Knowing why a teacher is struggling is the key to finding the right intervention and helping them be the best teacher they can be.
Nobody went into education to get rich or become famous. They entered this profession because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. I also believe that nobody wants to be mediocre. Educational leaders need to support teachers who are struggling and inspire those who may have lost the fire in the belly. When we support a child, we can shape their future. When we support a teacher, we can help shape the future of every child they teach. The average teacher impacts over a thousand students in their career. Because of this impact, we need to make sure that No Teacher is Left Behind!
“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward
“It’s the teacher that makes the difference, not the classroom.” – Michael Morpurgo
Was honored to be featured in this week’s A Community of Principals Podcast
- Monday, September 17: Team/Parent Meeting (Gruenewald) 8:15 AM, Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, iReady Window closes at the end of day
- Tuesday, September 18: REED (Banter) 8:15, REED (Ringler) 9:50, Tornado Drill 11:00 (This is a change in time), REED (Adams) 11:20, Principal Training for 5D 3:00 PM
- Wednesday, September 19: REED (Jones) 8:15 AM, REED (Edwards) 8:35 AM
- Thursday, September 20: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM (Bring Yellow Cards), PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
- Friday, September 21: Bill Roberts from AXA in Lounge (with treats:) 8:00 AM, Picture Day in the East Commons, Parent M-Step Reports mailed out
- Monday, September 24: Book Fair Opens, Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
- Tuesday, September 25: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
- Wednesday, September 26: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
- Thursday, September 27: No Staff Meeting, Curriculum Night/Open House 6:00-7:30
- Friday, September 28: Book Fair Closes, Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting