Here are some thoughts for teachers who’d like to build their own collaborative influence—
Firstly, don’t go to your school leader with complaints only, or the expectation that administrators should solve all problems in the building. Grievances that are accompanied by proposed solutions– or at the very least, your own detailed analysis of the issue–are more likely to be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.
Secondly, seek your own professional learning, and find networks of colleagues who do the same. Stay on top of current issues in practice and policy. Talk publicly about those issues–in staff meetings, in the lounge, in e-mail groups. Invite administrators to be part of your professional discussions; share ideas and concerns about programs, trends and policies. Everyone’s sharper and better able to serve students when they’re well-informed–and you’ve made it clear that it’s not the principal’s responsibility to “develop” you, as a professional.
Later on, give credit where credit is due. Sincerely acknowledging a school leader’s accomplishments and skills creates room for new capacities to emerge: Nice job on the newsletter! Thanks for helping me think about that grading issue. I appreciate your support in getting the library opened on Wednesday nights.
Afterwards, give school leaders some cover and support when they make unpopular but necessary decisions. Controversies always emerge in school life, but don’t hang your administrators out to dry when the situation is sticky and they’ve stuck their neck out for what is right. Co-accept responsibility and co-own problems.
Moreover, be willing to ask thorny, step-on-toes questions in front of your colleagues and administrators: Why do we start the high school day at 7:15 when research and the kids’ zoned-out behavior tell us they’re not ready to learn then? Would it be better for students’ mental energy to add a second recess–and what would it take to staff and schedule that? Our building policy on homework doesn’t make sense for the kids we have now–can we find a better answer?
Furthermore, whenever possible, bring all players into solution-finding, even chronic grumps. There’s nothing more irritating to teachers than the thought (true or not) that the principal or superintendent has collected a group of sycophants to make decisions. It’s messy to deal with school wide issues when everyone’s involved–but it builds trust.
Lastly, approach every issue with the mindset that teachers and administrators are co-equals, working together to solve problems. Don’t mentally position teachers and school leaders on opposite, adversarial sides when difficult change is needed. Begin with the assumption that teacher perspectives will be valued, even if you think that seldom happens. Collaboration is not the default problem-solving approach in most schools, despite happy talk about collegiality. The goal isn’t getting what you want–or preventing the “wrong” solution. Whatever the problem is–it’s everyone’s problem until it’s solved.
—Source: blogs.edweek