- Superintendents aspiring to enhance collaboration among their school's teacher teams can start by encouraging multiple group members to take on leadership roles, modeled after the professional learning community, which typically has one leader and several other educators with varying levels of responsibilities working to meet student needs, Edutopia reported.
- John Maxwell's book The 360 Degree Leader features multiple leadership methods that can be applied to help administrators, not only to benefit student outcomes, but also to build better relationships with their teachers that can help with retention of top talent.
- One method, called leading up, features empowering teachers with more opportunities to help them become better leaders, rather than undermining their decision making. A second method, leading horizontally, involves administrators taking risks that build trust with their teachers, such as offering them chances to conduct case studies that analyze student outcomes. Lastly, leading downward is a process by which leaders offer tips to teachers on topics including school lingo and data collection, so that they can start to become decision makers.
A recent study from Michigan State University released in May highlights that half of early career teachers leave their schools after five years, with 25% of them leaving the teaching profession altogether. One major factor in poor retention rates is perceived lack of support and personal development from principals. A method for satisfying faculty and encouraging them to stay on the job is to offer them a voice in decision-making processes and also encouraging them to build more effective teaching methods. These tactics not only make them better leaders, but also increase their sense of ownership over their classrooms.
Methods suggested by Maxwell are a stepping stone for administrators who want to offer teachers greater autonomy without surrendering complete oversight. Each of the leadership types encourages collaboration instead of absolutely devolution of decision-making, which is essential as teachers — particularly new teachers — are still navigating how to take charge of their classrooms. But an even more obvious step for school leaders is simply to make it easier for teachers to have direct input in what's happening where they work. At the the Education Commission for the States National Forum on Education Policy last week, many educators pointed out that they often feel like they can't get involved in administrative meetings, because they often occur at times when they should be in the classroom. Taking simple steps, such as moving administrative meetings to be more available to all educators, can improve the school environment for educators.