“Principalship” entails many things, but at its core, it is—and has always been—about building trusting relationships. We may balance the budget and successfully maintain the building; we may ensure that teachers have the necessary resources and all the professional development opportunities in the world…but if we fail to build trusting relationships, what good are balanced budgets, “SMART” classrooms, one-for-one programs, and squeaky clean amenities?
Relationships breathe life into a curriculum that would otherwise be static; relationships also create a safe space for open discourse, and encourage exploration, confidence and respect. Most of us believe this and while we do our best to nurture strong relationships with teachers, it’s easy to get lost in the hum of daily activity and the increasing demands of our profession.
We’ve been reading Elain McEwan-Adkins’s book, How to Deal With Teachers Who Are Angry, Troubled, Exhausted, or Just Plain Confused. The entire book is worth a read, but one section in particular has stuck with us. Below you’ll find a collection of what McEwan-Adkins called “The Teacher’s List of Needs.” We hope you find it as compelling and thought-provoking as we do.
All teachers need to:
- Know that their principals will deal with their problems directly and privately.
- Be given credit for their ideas, creativity, hard work, and willingness to take on additional responsibilities (privately, publicly, orally, and in writing).
- Know that their principals will not jump to conclusions or make hasty decisions, particularly when their welfare is under consideration.
- Have principals who are available and listen to them.
- Have reasons and explanations given when problems occur, requests cannot be fulfilled, or promises are broken.
- Have all of the information and facts put on the table and be kept apprised of what is happening in their schools.
- Know that when possible and where appropriate, when decisions are made that affect them, they will be given opportunities for input and discussion.
- Feel their principals are fair and will not show favoritism to an individual or group.
- Be assured that principals will keep open minds when they advance ideas or make suggestions for change.
- Be a part of the team when parent and student problems are under discussion, problems are being solved, or plans are being developed.
- Feel supported in their disciplinary decisions with students.
- Know that their principals will admit mistakes, sincerely apologize when wrong, and then move forward.
- Be confident that their principals will send parents to them first if there are questions or concerns about what they are doing in their classrooms.
- Be able to bring problems and concerns regarding their principals’ performance to the forefront and, that such problems and concerns will be addressed honestly, immediately, and positively.
- Know that their principals value their personal lives and, when appropriate and possible, will take them into consideration when making requests.