By S.C Horton- Guest Blogger
Being a teacher in a public school system for 16 years, I have had the opportunity to work under several administrators, each dynamic in his or her own way—varying in strengths and weaknesses. The administrators that have had the most impact on my practice, however, were the administrators that were teacher friendly. By this I mean that those particular administrators were respectful of the expertise and skills I brought into the classroom. Through the teacher friendly administrators I was afforded many leadership opportunities and chances for further growth as a professional.
As teachers, we must be willing to take an active position as specialists in our field, regardless of whether or not we view our administrators as “teacher friendly.” In order to do this, it is important that we understand our administrators’ perspective on educational issues that affect both our teaching practices and the overall climate of our relationships. The following questions are helpful in beginning the conversation with your administrator and to help open your understanding of what he or she expects from you as an educator.
1. What is your personal definition of education?
I ask this because not everyone has the same definition or idea of what education is or supposed to be. I feel that knowing your administrator’s definition will give insight as to why he or she makes certain decisions that affect the school.
2. Explain your personal vision for the school.
In many cases, the school vision that is mounted in school hallways and printed on bulletins was created by someone other than your current administrator and put in place before he or she arrived at your school. Hearing his or her perspective of the direction in which the school should go will help you find your place within that vision.
3. Define the role of the classroom teacher. What do you expect to see when you come into my classroom?
The goal here is to remove all confusion as to what your administrator expects from you. If there are discrepancies of his or her expectations and how you view your role as an educator, this is a great time to address those issues.
4. In what ways, outside of the classroom, can I be of assistance in fulfilling your vision for the school?
Teachers are highly trained professionals and should be treated as such. For teachers, this is your opportunity to find out where you can demonstrate your expertise outside of the classroom. This is also a good time to volunteer your skills in an area of your interest.
Relationships between teachers and administrators are often strained, but that does not have to be the case. Open the lines of communication between you and your administrator, and see the difference it will make for you, your administrator, and your work environment.
Do you feel like you have an approachable Principal? What questions would you like to ask your administrators? Comment below.
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**S.C Horton is a 16-year veteran secondary school teacher in Cleveland, Ohio.