4 ), 697 – 721 W r i t i n g
Peer Response 1:
How can principals and school leaders effectively work with teachers who traditionally spend time complaining about students who are unable to perform and focus on the solution rather than the problem?
I think that effective school leaders can act as role models and seek opportunities to provide their teachers with learning opportunities and support. This can change the attitude of many, but some teachers’ attitudes are part of their personality and that cannot be changed. The way a principal offers opportunities to make decisions in the school shows appreciation for the hard work their staff is putting in each day, motivating their staff through fun incentives, and supporting their teachers is a great way to help those teachers with poor attitudes become more positive and receptive to their careers. The best way to motivate and change the culture of the school is to be a good listener and supporter. Many teachers feel motivated and happier when they feel understood and accepted. Think about a classroom setting, building relationships with the students is imperative to their learning and success. The same is for school leaders, building relationships with the staff is imperative to the focus and attitudes of each teacher.
How can principals and school leaders effectively shape or change perspectives needing to be adjusted regarding teacher development?
Principals can effectively shape and change perspectives regarding teacher development by acting as role models. When a leader is enthusiastic about learning and making changes within the school, the staff follows suit.
How can principals and school leaders assist novice teachers in understanding classroom management while also developing and honing their craft?
School leaders can assist novice teachers in understanding classroom management by providing meaningful professional development and providing ongoing support for their staff. I think many novice teachers feel overwhelmed and unappreciated, therefore, giving them leadership roles and providing support helps them feel appreciated and understood. The novice teachers and new teachers can work together as a team. Each can provide meaningful and beneficial learning opportunities.
How can principals and school leaders prevent more seasoned teachers from losing heart or passion for teaching and learning?
As said above, it is important to provide incentives and new leadership opportunities for seasoned teachers. These new opportunities can motivate seasoned teachers in ways they never thought possible. This year I switched to a new grade level after 8 years. It has brought excitement and motivation to my teaching. I never felt bored, but after changing grade levels I realized that it was exactly what I needed. Although a change in grade level would not benefit the seasoned teachers, new leadership roles could give them some motivation. Changes are hard for many, but when chosen to “help” the school administration, these changes can be subtle and beneficial for many teachers.
What role do professional development and attitude play in developing teachers?
Professional development often has a negative impact on some educators, especially when they feel overwhelmed or the information is not relevant to their teaching and learning styles. It is imperative to motivate teachers throughout the professional development offered. According to Desimone (2011), “Teacher professional development is one of the keys to improving the quality of U.S. schools” (p. 68). There could be incentives for teachers who successfully implement the new strategies or even rewards for making changes within their classrooms. As said before, change is hard for some teachers. Many teachers feel their ways have worked, so there is no need to change. Using incentives to make small changes within the classroom is beneficial and motivating. These incentives could be team-based per grade level.
I also feel the professional development offered should give teachers a choice in the courses they take, for example, providing teachers with many learning opportunities and allowing them to choose their schedule is motivating and relevant to their subject area. According to research, “One solution is to focus on the features of professional development activities that lead to teacher learning, rather than on the types or structural aspects of activities in which teachers engage” (Desimone, 2011, p. 69). This would create a small group learning setting as well.
Desimone, L. M. (2011). A primer on effective professional development. Phi delta kappan, 92(6), 68-71
Peer Response 2:
As a principal and school leader it is important to lead by example. There will always be those teachers that are known as the negative ones of the group. However, learning to refocus their comments with thought provoking questions can help lead them to finding solutions rather than focusing on the problems. For example, when a teacher complains about a student that is not performing, ask them what they (the teacher) are doing for intervention. Ask them what interventions they have tried. Ask them how you can help them to help the student. Try to lead them back to the data and the tangible components versus the destructive general statements about struggling students.
The culture of the school stems from the leadership. The leader has the power to shape and/or change the perspectives of teachers at the school. Sometimes it may not be directly. For example, principals may seek like-minded individuals that believe in the mission and vision of the school and ask them to lead the professional development at the school. Teachers like to hear from other teachers. Many teachers believe that administration has forgotten what it is like to be in the trenches of the classroom once they become administrators. Teachers facilitating PD can create more teacher buy-in. Principals just have to be strategic when they are choosing who they want to be the teacher leaders at their school. Teacher attitudes, beliefs, and perspectives will spread fast and they can be contagious. Choose wisely.
Explicit professional development headed by the expert teachers and teacher mentors on campus can help novice teachers develop their classroom management skills. Principals can also help by doing walk-thru observations and offering feedback to new teachers. The walk-thrus are less threatening than the formal observations and offer a type of ongoing feedback to help them improve prior to the formal observation.
Recognition and appreciation goes a long way. If principals are spotlighting teachers and recognizing their efforts then they will feel valued and appreciated. Also, creating a shared leadership model can also help to reignite the fire for a more seasoned teacher. For example, asking these expert teachers to serve as mentors, to lead professional development, to facilitate professional learning communities, etc. All of these things show that the principal trusts them and sees them as an asset to the school. Building strong relationships and nurturing a feeling of collective responsibility can help to create a stronger, more loyal team.
One of the most important things to do when hosting professional development is to create teacher buy-in. Without teacher buy-in, the negative attitudes will spread throughout. This is where those positive, like-minded teachers come into play. Asking them to lead the PD will increase the buy-in of the other teachers. Teachers need to see the relevance and how it applies to what they are doing in their classrooms. It also needs to be engaging so that they are actively engaged are not just passively listening to lecture-style presentations. Research by Jones suggested that hands-on learning is beneficial for adults just like it is beneficial for students. Jones (2021) revealed that “Participants noted these feelings (being placed in the student role) were unique to this experience as compared with other PD experiences” (p. 712). If the PD stands out and the teachers feel like it is useful then they will be more likely to implement it.
Jones, W. M. (2021). Teachers’ perceptions of a maker-centered professional development experience: a multiple case study. International Journal of Technology & Design Education, 31(4), 697–721. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-020-09581-2