Walking down the halls of Quincy Elementary, I feel a little bit like the Pied Piper. Children scramble to give me hugs, to tell me a story, or to just say hello. It fills me with joy and brings meaning to my days. I absolutely love it.
What do teachers do as I walk down the halls at school? Do they rush to give me hugs, to share a story or a smile? Or, do they try to duck into their classrooms before I reach them? Does my presence lift teachers up or bring them down? Do I make them nervous or excited?
I have written about this idea before in a post called I Serve Teachers. Here is a quote from that post,
“As lovely as it is to connect with our students…I have no business spending my time doing so.”
Like the quote states,I have no business spending time connecting with students if I am neglecting to connect with my teachers–to find out their strengths, passions, and next steps for continuous improvement. I need to know what gets in the way of performing at their best. I want to know what dreams they have for their students, and what brings them joy at school. Let’s take that idea a step further and face another reality. I am marshmallow fluff to my students. The teachers are the meat and potatoes.
Granted, I am a positive adult who believes in our students; my presence and everything I do has a strong impact on the culture of the school. But, when it comes to impacting their educational experience in a direct and profound way, I am relatively insignificant.
Let’s look at this idea mathematically.
As an elementary principal, I am with students a lot. I stand in the center of the school every morning to greet as many students as possible. I try to visit every classroom every day, even if it is just for a few minutes. I take my rolling desk out into the hallways and do my work out there for many reasons, and one is to connect with students as they travel in the halls. I am in the lunchroom and out at recess every day. At dismissal, you can find me telling students how much I will miss them and can’t wait to see them the next day.
Even with all these opportunities, I will only have a maximum of 5-10 minutes with any student on any given day. That equals a maximum of 50 minutes per week. Teachers are with students for the rest of the time, and when we take out planning time and lunch, classroom teachers are with students for about 1,500 minutes per week. Compared to my paltry 50 minutes. That is why I am marshmallow fluff.
If I want to greatly influence the education of students at my school, I must lead adults. And leading adults is hard.
Most principals started their careers as teachers, and if they became principals, they were probably pretty good teachers. That means we are good at leading children. It does not mean we are good at leading adults. I stunk at leading adults at first (read about that here), and in my thirteenth year as a principal, I still have much to learn.
It wasn’t until I learned to listen to teachers that I really started feeling like I could effectively lead them.
It wasn’t until I learned to ask questions to seek to understand that I felt like I could be THEIR champion.
I am excited to explore the idea of being a #Champion4Teachers in 2017. I whole-heartedly believe that teachers need principals to be their champions. In turn, teachers will be much better equipped to use those 1,500 minutes a week to champion their students.
How about a positive note or call to a teacher every day for the rest of our school year?
Let’s say YES more often.
How about never making a decision without first talking to the teachers who will have to implement it?
Let’s model risk-taking and publically try new things. Let’s not be afraid to fail.
What ideas do you have to be a #Champion4Teachers in 2017?
Listen to a podcast of this blog post HERE