An open letter to administrators…

With permission, I share with you educator Justin Tarte‘s open letter to administrators.

As he says, “Don’t take this open letter as us trying to tell you how to do your job. As Educators we must all be open for suggestions and advice…” And the reality here is that each one of his points are ones well worth both being reminded of and/or reflecting on. I’ve never met Justin, but I feel like he is one of my teachers (in more ways than one). He is a digital colleague and I hope that like me, you’ll appreciate the value of some of the things he shares below:

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An open letter to administrators…

Dear administrators,
 

We have a lot of respect for what you do. Your job is extremely difficult, and there are lots of aspects of your job that we don’t fully understand. Your ability to lead an entire staff and student body is frankly amazing, and more importantly, you always seem cool, calm and collected. There are times where we would love to have your job; there are other times where we couldn’t imagine having your job. Your job is definitely not an easy job, but as teachers, here are a few things we would like you to keep in mind:

1) – When making decisions that are going to affect our classes or our students, we would really appreciate it if you would ask for our opinions and feedback first. We know you can’t ask for feedback for every decision, but more often than not would be much appreciated.

2) – Will you please come to our classrooms more often. We are really doing some awesome, innovative and creative things with our students, and we would love to share our experiences and successes with you and our staff.

3) – It would really mean a lot to us if you would participate in our professional development days. As Educators, we all need to be lifelong learners, and the staff would be quite receptive if you were learning side by side with us. We know your presence can skew the way some Educators respond, but we feel that would only be temporary until your presence becomes common practice.

4) – Can you please refrain from blanketing the entire staff with a punishment/lecture when the problem lies with a small group of Educators, and not the entire staff. Just as we don’t do this with students, it’s not fair to do it with us either.

5) – Your time is extremely limited and you are always busy, but we would really love it if you were more visible in the hallways between classes. Establishing and building a school community are crucial to the school’s success, and this is one of the easiest ways to show students and teachers we are all in this together.

6) – It would be much appreciated if you would include teachers, students and community members when developing the building’s vision and goals. Additionally, it would be wise to revisit and redevelop our building’s vision and goals, as society and the needs of our students are always changing. Lastly, we should really believe and follow through on our building’s vision and goals.

7) – We love any new idea or initiative that can improve the education we offer at our school, but if we are going to add new programs would you please consider eliminating other programs that aren’t quite as effective. Speak with students and teachers to determine which programs are really helping, and which programs we could probably do without.

8) – Lastly, the more autonomy and voice you give us Educators, the better we will perform. Allow us to do the jobs that you hired us for. Support us, empower us, and encourage us, but please don’t control us. Tell us it’s OK to take chances in an effort to do something awesome with our students. Provide time for us to see the awesome things other Educators are doing in our building. Please be the instructional leader you were hired to be.

Don’t take this open letter as us trying to tell you how to do your job. As Educators we must all be open for suggestions and advice, and we would hope that if anyone had any advice or suggestions, they would take the time to inform us. As previously mentioned, there are parts of your job that we don’t always understand because we have never been administrators, but we hope this letter provides a small reminder of how much your decisions and actions affect others.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to your response.

(By Justin Tarte)

4 Comments

  1. Justin,

    Thank your for you candor. You could easily be a member of my staff as I have been reminded of several suggestions you offer by several teachers on my staff. I don’t always like it, but I’ve come to appreciate it when my teachers remind me to visit more often, seek their feedback, and confront individual teachers who are not doing the things they are supposed to do. Thanks again. My friend!

    Be Great,

    Dwight

    April 25, 2011
  2. Ted Hutchings said:

    Excellent observations! Your open letter should remind all administrators that they are teachers, first and foremost. Each suggestion could easily be transferred to the relationships between teachers and students. This is a great post because it identifies what is at the heart of effective, powerful schools. Collaboration. Respect. Dialogue. Another great Connected Principals post!!!

    April 25, 2011
  3. Russell said:

    Ted nailed it! Respect! As soon as administrators see themselves as superior to classroom teachers the dynamic grinds and lags. We should all be seen as autonomous professionals working in different roles within our organisation. I applaud Justin’s restraint and respect towards the administrators he addresses, and I note that the best administrators that I have worked with have reciprocated that respect for teachers. Unfortunately my experience is that at the regional, state, and political level there seems to be an imperative to promote administrators as of superior worth, as opposed to classroom teachers!

    April 25, 2011
  4. Mark Linton said:

    Justin,

    As a building principal I appreciated your comments. The choices I make regarding my use of time are important and I need to be more attentive to this. One of the struggles I sometimes have regarding getting input is the best format for gathering information. I refer to Todd Whitaker’s advice to make decisions based on your best teachers. It seems insincere to ask for input that I know I won’t value. To ask a few teachers for input seems like favoritism. Ultimately, I determine who will be impacted by the decision and then meet with that group of people as a whole. This increases transparency and doesn’t allow some people to hide behind the cloak of a survey or an anonymous questionnaire.

    Mark

    April 26, 2011

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