There have been countless studies on how to improve the teaching profession. But what do educators themselves think? What do they say they need to excel in their jobs? And what obstacles do they commonly face?
. Teachers want to work in schools where they can thrive, and they’re not going to thrive and extend themselves if they don’t feel comfortable with their colleagues and the management.
It comes down to leaders creating a clear and compelling vision around learning and really going to bat for teachers. They have to create a safe environment for teachers—an environment where teachers feel they can make decisions that matter in both their classrooms and their institute.
More broadly, effective leaders create structures in which it’s clear that teachers have a certain authority. In some states, according to our surveys, we have only a third of teachers agreeing that they are centrally involved in school decision-making. What they want from leaders is to have processes where they can really understand their role in learning and can really respond to situations and engage in ways that make sense to them.
The pressures on principals today are overwhelming. Principals must deal with federal and state accountability systems, assessments, parents and community, and in the end, they are ultimately accountable for performance. It is difficult to let go and empower others when you know it is your neck on the line for results. But of course, in the end, it is that team effort and drawing the best from staff that will generate improved performance. That’s just a tough leap.
And it’s even tougher for principals if they don’t have supportive environments, either. Many were not prepared to serve as the visionary, instructional leaders we now expect. They receive little induction and professional development of their own, and are often not empowered to make decisions at their school that they believe are necessary due to local, state, and federal policy....