This week I wanted to share with you some resource ideas and a simple point for you to consider that will assist you with your work building climate and culture in your school. It is a leadership move that will aid your teachers, benefit your students and give you a huge pat on the back for a job well done.
Never stop being a teacher. It sounds simple enough, however we can often get swallowed up by the management aspects of the administrator role and lose touch with our past. And in the past you were a great teacher. Not all great teachers become administrators, but all administrators are/were great teachers.
It is really satisfying as a leader to see your influence find its way into the classroom. No longer being a teacher in the classroom is one of the most difficult aspects to give up when moving into an administrator role, but it doesn’t have to be. It is still a wonderful feeling to know you never stop being a teacher and you can continue to grow and develop your staff long after you have left the classroom.
I am not speaking about interacting with students. It is obvious that we continue to get into classrooms, support students, read with them, participate in their group work and get down on the carpet with our youngest learners. I am writing this week about being a teacher to staff.
Every opportunity I had to work with staff during staff meetings, learning meetings, divisional meetings, professional activity days etc I made sure I was modelling activities that can be used in the classroom by the teachers with their students. Each piece of content that needed to be shared, presented or read I would attach the ‘product’ or outcome of the content with a ‘process’ or teaching strategy to interact with the content.
Any time you have your staff in front of you it is an opportunity for you to model an activity while you present the content. I would name the activity or process, I would write it on a poster or in a digital presentation and have the staff acquire the needed information by activating and applying a process. My agenda for the meetings would always include two columns, one column for the content and one column for the activity or process I was going to share.
There are many famous facilitation techniques such as ‘think, pair share’, ‘3A’s plus 1’ ‘Just Like Me’, ‘3,2,1’ but many more out there that can be used with your staff so they are getting the content of the meeting and also a collaborative activity that they can use with their students. I also find time at the end of the activity to have staff turn and talk with others about how they would use the strategy, how they would adapt it for the age and stage of their children and in which content areas. Could they give an example of how they will use the strategy in the coming days?
As a leader, it is incredibly gratifying to find evidence of the activity done at a meeting in a classroom with students later in the week. Or having staff share with you, ‘hey, I used that strategy you showed us on Monday with my students today’
While teaching the principal qualification course I make sure I deliver the content in a variety of ways and each time we have a grouping activity I share with the candidates a process or protocol while interacting with the content. When the activity is done we speak about where you would use the process in the future and they begin to understand that this modelling is important with staff, during parent council meetings, learning days etc.
Never, ever miss the opportunity to share great instructional practices when you are learning with your staff. It pays huge dividends when you inject some life into your meetings with effective, interactive learning strategies that can be taken away and used with students.
You can find lots of great resources on group activities in categories such as: Activities for Getting Started, Activities for Information Processing, Activities for Generating Ideas, Strategies for Dialogue and Discussion I have found the work of Bruce Wellman, Laura Lipton, to be very helpful with lots of ideas, activities and protocols to use. A book that has caught my attention and has many ideas for facilitating is Crafting Your Message: Tips and Tricks for Educators to Deliver Perfect Presentations by Tammy Heflebower with Jan K. Hoegh. It is available through Solution Tree. Send me a message if you need any assistance locating the resource.
As always I love hearing from you when you have taken one of my “Interesting Ideas” and made it your own. I’m honoured that you continue to read, use some of the ideas and then let me know. Keep the messages coming.