Principals want all of their teachers to be great teachers. Great teachers make a principal’s job easier. Realistically, not every teacher is a great teacher. Greatness takes time to develop. A major component of a principal’s job is to improve teacher quality. An effective principal has the ability to help a good teacher become a great teacher. They also understand that this is a process that takes time. By improving teacher quality, they will naturally improve student quality. Improved input equals improved output. This is an essential component of school success. Continuous growth and improvement is necessary. A principal should be the driving force to improving teacher quality within their building.
There are many ways that a principal can improve teacher quality within their building. Here, we examine seven ways that a principal can help individual teachers grow and improve.
Conduct Meaningful Evaluations
It takes a lot of time to conduct a thorough teacher evaluation. Principals are often times overwhelmed with all their duties and evaluations are commonly placed on the backburner. However, evaluations are the single most crucial aspect when improving teacher quality. A principal should routinely observe and evaluate a teacher’s classroom to identify areas of need and weakness and to create an individual plan for that teacher to improve in those areas.
An evaluation should be thorough, especially for those teachers who have been identified as needing significant improvement. They should be created after a substantial number of observations that allow a principal to see the entire picture of what a teacher is doing in their classroom. These evaluations should drive a principal’s plan of the resources, suggestions, and professional development that is required to improve individual teacher quality.
Offer Constructive Feedback/Suggestions
A principal must offer a list that includes any weaknesses which they find during the evaluation. A principal should also give detailed suggestions to guide teacher improvement. If the list is exceedingly comprehensive, then pick a few of the things that you believe is the most important. Once those have improved to an area deemed effective, then you can move on to something else. This can be done both formally and informally and is not limited to what is on the evaluation. A principal may see something that could improve the teacher on a quick visit to the classroom. The principal may offer constructive feedback intended to address this smaller issue.
Provide Meaningful Professional Development
Engaging professional development can improve teacher quality. It is necessary to note that there are a lot of terrible professional development opportunities. A principal needs to look thoroughly at the professional development they are scheduling and determine if it will produce the intended results. Engaging professional development can foster dynamic changes for a teacher. It can motivate, provide innovative ideas and gives a fresh perspective from an outside source. There are professional development opportunities that cover just about any weakness a teacher has. Continuous growth and improvement is essential for all teachers and even more valuable for those who have gaps that need to be closed.
Provide Adequate Resources
All teachers need the appropriate tools to do their job effectively. Principals must be able to give their teachers the resources they need. This can be challenging as we currently live in an era where educational funding is a significant issue. However, in the age of the Internet, there are more tools available to teachers than ever before. Teachers must be taught to use the Internet and other technologies as an educational resource in their classroom. Great teachers will find a way to cope without having all the resources they would like to have. However, principals should do everything they can to provide their teachers with the best resources or provide professional development to use the resources they do have effectively.
Provide a Mentor
Great veteran teachers can provide tremendous insight and encouragement to an inexperienced or struggling teacher. A principal must develop veteran teachers who want to share best practices with other teachers. They must also build a trusting, encouraging atmosphere in which their entire faculty communicates, collaborates, and shares with each other. Principals must make mentor connections in which both sides have similar personalities or the connection may be counter productive. A solid mentor connection can be a positive, learning venture for both the mentor and the mentee. These interactions are most effective when they are daily and ongoing.
Establish Regular Open Communication
All principals should have an open door policy. They should encourage their teachers to discuss concerns or to seek advice at any time. They should engage their teachers in continuous, dynamic dialogue. This dialogue should be held regularly especially for those teachers who need improvement. Principals should want to build engaging, trusting relationships with their teachers. This is essential for improving teacher quality. Principals who do not have this sort of relationship with their teachers will not see improvement and growth. Principals must be active listeners who offer encouragement, constructive criticism, and suggestions when appropriate.
Principals should encourage inexperienced or struggling teachers to journal. Journaling can be a powerful tool. It can help a teacher grow and improve through reflection. It can help them better recognize their individual strengths and weaknesses. It is also valuable as a reminder of things that worked and things that did not work so well in their classroom. Journaling can spark insight and understanding. It can be a dynamic game changer for teachers who genuinely want to improve.