Teachers, my commitment to you…

As I prepare for my first year as an administrator, I continue to be humbled and amazed by the many intricacies of the administrative job (and school hasn’t even started yet!). I have spoken with many current administrators, and they all say the first year as an administrator is by far the most difficult.

Though I have been spending a lot of time speaking with administrators, I have also taken a significant amount of time to speak with teachers, both in my new building as well as with former colleagues. Overwhelmingly there has been one common message from teachers, “Don’t forget what it’s like to be in the classroom.”

As I am sure you know, there are some teachers who think that administrators are pure evil. Likewise, there are some administrators who think teachers are insignificant and have it way too easy. I don’t believe either statement, but I am aware that these beliefs exist. Consequently, I am going to make a commitment to all my teacher colleagues to not forget what it’s like to be in the classroom. Here is how I plan on doing that:

1) – I commit myself to listening much more than speaking. I will actively seek out teachers and ask them how things are going, and what I can do to help.

2) – I commit myself to teaching a lesson at least once a quarter. I want to get back in the classroom, while also providing a deserving break to a teacher.

3) – I commit myself to continuing to learn and grow as an instructional leader. As an administrator, I believe I was hired to help enhance the learning environment which in turn will increase student learning. I need to continue learning and growing to remain relevant and applicable.

4) – I commit myself to sharing content specific resources with my colleagues. By doing this, I will be thinking of ways to apply these strategies in a classroom setting, thus keeping my teaching skills refined and sharp.

5) – I commit myself to modeling effective delivery methods during PD sessions, PLC sessions and faculty meetings. By modeling these strategies I can stay relevant, while also providing concrete examples for teachers to use in their classrooms.

6) – I commit myself to finding and encouraging the strengths of all my colleagues. By modeling this behavior I can set an example that we all should be doing in our classrooms.

7) – I commit myself to getting into classrooms on a daily basis. One of the easiest ways for me to stay relevant and current on classroom trends is to be present. I need to observe and be witness to what is going on.

8) – I commit myself to focusing on the “we” rather than “them” and “us.” We will never be as strong or effective as we are together, thus collaboration and teamwork are my top priorities.

These are my strategies to make sure I don’t forget what it’s like to be in the classroom. What strategies have you used or what strategies would you suggest…?

 

This post is also posted on my personal blog, Life of an Educator.

10 comments for “Teachers, my commitment to you…

  1. August 14, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Justin, I know I have already told you this, but you are going to be outstanding! Your commitments are right on the mark. I encourage you to take this list out once a month and self-evaluate yourself. As an administrator, it is easy to get caught up in the managerial side of the principalship and find yourself in your office staying on top of paperwork. The managerial duties can be accomplished after hours, but to accomplish your well-thought out commitments, this must be completed during the school day. Your best teachers in your building are craving this style of leadership. The most important thing is follow-through and I know you will. However, if you do not plan for it and clear a place on your daily calendar, you can easily fall behind on your goals.

    Get into classrooms every day, cause discomfort to the right teachers, and listen to your best teachers!

    • August 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      Shawn,

      Thanks for the kind words and great advice. I hope that I am able to set aside the time for the things that really matter during the school day, while saving many of the more managerial tasks for after school. I appreciate your support and encouragement!

      Thanks for the comment :)

  2. August 14, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Wow! Just came across this on Twitter…..contemplating how I can stick this unde the nose of my school principal nicely hehe

    I think it would be a pleasure to work alongside someone like you – keep up the great work :)

    • August 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

      Janelle,

      Thanks for the comment and kind words. Good luck taking this to your principal…it takes a progressive thinker to accept these statements, and hopefully we can get this discussion going and bring all Educators to action to improve student learning.

      Thanks again!

  3. August 14, 2011 at 4:50 am

    Justin,
    You’re going to be great! One of the greatest commitments you’ve made there, is to be in the classroom daily. I think the others will come naturally to someone as dedicated to the students, teachers and profession as you are, but being in the classroom and (co-)teaching whenever possible will make all the difference. Enjoy your new role!
    Jeremy Inscho (@JeremyInscho)

    • August 14, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      Jeremy,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I really look forward to getting into the classrooms on a daily basis to see some of the great things going on at PBJHS. Additionally, I need to find a willing teacher who will allow me to teach part of his/her class :)

  4. Ryan
    August 14, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    What an interesting project.

    Your commitments are designed to allow you to navigate a middle path between two extreme positions, and I predict that your best commitment will be your eighth one. Your second commitment sounds like it should be useful, but I wonder if this will prove to be counter intuitive. A lesson is often more than a lesson. Teachers will work with students to make improvements to their skills, knowledge, behavior, etc. A single lesson really does not allow you to experience that, and I wonder if some teachers won’t see your offer to help out with a single lesson as simplifying their work. Perhaps this will entirely depend upon how you respond to them after taking on their class.

    I also worry that your commitments will make it more difficult to learn what it means to be an administrator. If I were planning my career goals, I might have selected some of these commitments as things to explore or focus on in my first year and others as things that I would have time to explore in my second year. Any one of these commitments would likely prove to be ambitious, and you’ve taken on eight.

    As you can see, I find this project quite fascinating, and I hope you’ll return once or twice per year to revisit and evaluate the effectiveness of these commitments. I’d also be interested to hear what your staff make of this. Do you intend to ask them for feedback?

    Good luck!
    Ryan

  5. August 15, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Hi Justin. Congratulations on your move! I like all the commitments you’re making, and I think they’re right on target. I tried something new in the supervision/evaluation process last year that worked well. Observation experiences can be among the least authentic experiences in the schoolhouse, especially if teachers feel compelled to put on a “dog and pony” show for you. In an effort to observe more authentic teaching, I chose a couple of teachers to pilot observations for which I co-planned the lesson with the teacher, and we taught together. This probably only works if you have a really great memory, but I found that my memory of the lesson was heightened by my own participation in it. I find that as I plan the lesson with the classroom teacher, we have to necessarily look at the teaching and learning that bookends the lesson we teach together. We’re aware of where the students are, and where we want the lesson we’re planning to take them. And it just takes SO much hot air out of the observation process both for me and for the classroom teacher. Just a thought.

    I also like your plan to get into the classroom and teach at least once a quarter. Depending on your situation, you might be able to do that even more.

    Happy Trails! If you’re ever in Westport, stop in at Long Lots Elementary School!

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