Maintaining a teaching role helps principals stay connected
- Perea Elementary School (Tenn.) development coach Kevin Kimberly, also a former principal, sees teaching a class while serving as an administrator as key to remaining in a teacher mindset, he said during an interview with Chalkbeat.
- Kimberly feels that relationship building with students and parents is an important part of the leadership process but requires authenticity on the part of teachers and principals, who also need to take the time to communicate with parents and students when something good is happening — not just at times of crisis.
- Principals should also stay connected with teachers, Kimberly said, because “a good principal drives their teachers forward by empowering their craft, not just their paperwork," noting that his most important role is coaching and helping teachers build capacity.
Principals face many responsibilities and challenges in their role, but at their heart, they are teachers first and foremost. Some principals choose to remain in a teaching role when they assume the mantle of leadership while, in other schools, necessity demands it. Teaching at least one class can help principals stay connected with students and help them build stronger rapport with teachers — elements that ultimately contribute to a better school culture.
Whether they remain in a teaching role or not, principals need to find a way to connect with their teachers, who can be their biggest assets. Principals need to support beginning teachers especially, but the need for support does not disappear with experience. Principals also need to build trusting relationships with these teachers so teachers feel free to call on them for advice early on before situations escalate into full-blown crisis mode. Such relationships also help retain teachers.
However, principals need to do more than support teachers: They must empower them. Teachers need to feel they have a voice in the education system and the freedom to explore new ways of teaching that may work better for their students. Good principals not only lead their staff, they inspire them. And inspirational leadership is the best kind of all.