Administrators are the leaders in schools and in some buildings have been rebranded as lead learners, program directors, chief storytellers or some other trendy term. Now, some of these leaders are leading in title only but not through their actions. They wield their authority in a dictatorial manner which does little to help the teachers or students. However, some truly are leaders through the way in which they perform the duties of their job, regardless of their title. Interestingly, I have started to notice administrators who are effective and good at their job just simply act like good teachers.
Good teachers know the importance of building a classroom culture. In fact, they know this is the most important aspect of their job. They work to make sure every child feels valued and an important part of their classroom. An effective administrator does the same thing. When an administrator creates a positive culture, people want to work for them. Teachers are willing to go through some of the tough work because they know their administrator cares about them and has their back. Culture trumps all in the classroom as well as the building.
Good teachers don’t punish a class for the actions of one child. They know the ineffectiveness of this method and deal with problems on a case by case basis. This too is seen with effective administrators. If one teacher or a small group of teachers are not following a school mandate or expectation, an effective administrator works with them personally. They know an all staff email is as pointless as a teacher yelling at the whole class for the actions of one student.
Good teachers know that not every student learns in the same way or on the same time frame. These teachers differentiate and provide individual instruction as well as support where and when needed. They have an intimate knowledge of their student’s strengths and weaknesses.This too is a hallmark of good administrators. They do not subscribe to the one size fits all or sit and get model of professional development. In fact, it is hypocritical for an administrator to expect their teachers to differentiate for students when they won’t for their own staff. Good administrators create professional development opportunities geared toward to individual needs of their teachers built upon individual need, interest, and choice.
The administrator often dictates the learning, culture and overall success of a building. This one person can have more impact in a building than any other single person. Personally, I have seen both sides of this as I have worked for administrators that have torn the staff down and those who built us up and empowered us in our work. In the case of those great administrators, the simple truth is they modeled their work after good teachers. 🙂