Principals, 5 Things Your Teachers Want to Tell You.

Principals, I know you’re busy going to the next meeting or addressing the next discipline issue, but your teachers need you to know some things. Here is what they want to tell you:

  1. Just as you get overwhelmed when more gets piled on, so do I.  I want to try new things too. I want to change the world too. Let’s figure this out together without the stress of “more.” Create conditions that allow me opportunities to dream and be innovative.
  1. I want to push myself, find out how fast, high, far, etc. I can really go. Will you not only support me in this, but push me to do it?
  1. Be there for me and let me know I’m believed in.  Find me in the morning or afternoon, ask me about my life outside of school, and let your actions and words manifest your belief in me.
  1. When you walk through my classroom, I need affirmation. Every time. Not feedback every time, but affirmation. There are appropriate times for feedback and it’s needed, but not in the same way affirmation is needed. I know you are crazy busy. It doesn’t have to be formal (I’d prefer it not be).  I can only be the best version of myself if you partner with me in this.
  1. I want to be actively involved in school-wide decision making. More than just the holiday party planning. The more you involve me, the more I feel empowered to come to you proactively with new ideas and solutions. I don’t just want to understand your vision, I want to be an active part of it.

Are you up for the challenge? The challenge of asking and listening. The challenge of creating an environment where teachers can share their hopes, dreams, and obstacles with you?




Jennifer Casa-Todd · December 3, 2015 at 1:55 am

I’ve read this post several times and I absolutely LOVE it! What I really think is interesting is that although you are talking about some important considerations for principals, I think that your post is applicable to students and their teachers. On my third read (and because I work at a District Level), I can see it working with the Superintendent/Principal dynamic as well as Consultants/Coordinators. Essentially, everyone needs to feel valued, affirmed, and heard. Thanks for this important reminder.

    nathandlang · December 3, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Thanks Jennifer! And yes, I am thinking how these 5 could easily be integrated into other colleague/learning relationships. And thanks for your affirmation!

RN · December 3, 2015 at 5:39 am

I really did appreciate #4. Sometimes we get caught up in wanting to provide feedback to our staff with good intention to help better their practice BUT affirmation is just as important (and effective) as well. Thanks for the reminder!

    nathandlang · December 3, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Thanks Roger! Yes, feedback, although crucial for growth, has a different place than genuine praise and affirmation.

    Holly Eicher · December 6, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Affirmation is more important. If we think we’re only being judged negatively, we become stressed by fear & may become defensive. Affirmation of what we do well helps us feel empowered and therefore more open to change and growth.

Ann Wood · December 4, 2015 at 4:45 pm

I very much agree with your article/statements. I taught for 26 years and only twice had a principal tell me I was doing a good job, at any other time than formal teacher evaluation time.

Mark French · December 4, 2015 at 10:03 pm

Nathan, this is quite timely and applicable to conversations and discussions I’ve had this past week with staff members. Thank you for your thoughts and words.

    nathandlang · December 4, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks Mark! Your teachers are privileged to have you as their leader!

Sheila Hill · December 28, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Wow Nathan!

What a great explanation of how teachers feel. You totally captured the soul of what a great leader should recognize. I am in the process of obtaining my Principal’s Certificate, and the statements in this article are what I want to embody. Imagine what a campus could be like if this fluidly happened! Thank you for sharing this with us!

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