Wake up call to administrators

I was a young manager of people — at age 24 I grew my cellular phone market from $1M and 13 employees to over $4 million with 32 employees. Managing people is tough. It is a thankless job and someone is always mad at you.

But, over time, I've formulated my own list of principles that I feel hold true in an educational context. I've had several administrators and I am fortunate that my administration is incredible! This list grew this year because I have honestly seen an administrator who does things right! I am more empowered and capable and am able to do so many incredible things because of his (and her) support! (I can honestly say that he is great!)

Wake up Call to Administrators

  • If you want students to treat teachers with respect, treat teachers with respect.
  • If you want students to treat teachers as the authority, give them some authority.
  • If you want teachers to act professional, treat them like professionals.
  • If you want to hold others accountable, accept accountability for your part of the equation.
  • If you want your teachers to be innovators, allow them to be connected to hotbeds of innovation. (Excited teachers are better teachers than bored ones.)

  • Don't judge teachers by their age, some of the most innovative teachers I know have been teaching for 30 years.

  • The morale of your classrooms is related directly to the morale of your teachers.
  • Don't change your mind to agree with the last person who was in your office. At some point you have to make a decision.
  • Understand that testing takes a lot of energy and you have to give children energy to recuperate — one wouldn't draw blood once a week to make sure a person was healthy, the process of over testing can be harmful to their health.
  • Good learning is fun and exciting! It is OK to laugh and learn!
  • Administrators who go on “witch hunts” end up on trial eventually. Great managers motivate and turn around the employees they have and hire the best as opportunity arises.
  • Teachers always talk. They will not keep your confidence. Do not say anything to one teacher that you don't want repeated to everyone else. (If you speak well of teachers in private, this spreads and is a great way to build trust.)
  • Don't advocate character education if you're not willing to act with character yourself. Be trustworthy, care, remember teachers are human, and do your best.
  • People aren't disposable.
  • You can employ a person, but only they employ their own soul. A teacher with their soul in their work is a better teacher than one going through the motions.
  • Good administrators are like good coaches – they give their teachers a vision and a person that they can believe in and trust.
  • Sometimes HOW you say something is more important than WHAT you say.
  • Sometimes HOW you do something is more important than WHAT you do.
  • There is no limit to what you can do if you're willing to give others credit.
  • Hire good teachers and let them teach.
  • Sometimes it is more important to do the right thing than to be right. (Good captains change course when they see they are heading into a deadly storm.)

  • Be in the now. Look at people when they talk to you. Your job is people. You can take papers at home with you at night. (When you talk to someone, you should be reading their body language. People think you don't care when you don't look at them.)
  • Spend your time removing roadblocks, not being one.

What would you add?

(Note: I started this list for my post on TechLearning called Content Filtration: A Little Dirt for Your Health?)

Also a note on my current administration

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Mrs. DiBurro November 11, 2006 - 9:55 pm

I have had admins that stiffled you – condescended to you – denied you any authority with the students, parents, and community. We have had a new admin for the past 2+ years. WOW – what a change! All the things you listed, she does. It is so refreshing to have an admin come to a team meeting and ask, “How would you change this? How would it best be changed to benefit the kids? I know it will be difficult or cost money, but if it improves our school…”

Melissa Simmons November 11, 2006 - 6:56 pm

You’re so right on with these points! I substituted in public schools before I took my private school job…the different in the attitudes of teachers is amazing! My admins give me room to explore and try new things…all they want if for me to enjoy my classroom because that usually means my students are successful also! I’m so fortunate to have an admin that trusts me and lets me do my job!

Cheryl Oakes November 12, 2006 - 10:44 pm

I like what Mrs. Diburro said, How would you change this to benefit kids? If all our meetings or messages would start out like this we could cut through to the quick. Also, I would put your last comment at the top and bottom, Don’t be a roadblock!

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