Yogesh Dalvi holds a Certificate in School Leadership and Management from Harvard Business School Online and a PG Diploma in Business Administration from a leading university in India, with over 16 years of experience in handling nationwide business operations while employed in the capacity of Operations Head in leading educational institutes in India and the Middle le East. He has been successful in achieving the operational goals, in K12 the sector, for 12 consecutive years and helped the schools grow in leaps and bounds across the nation.
In today’s highly competitive era, the role of teachers extends beyond imparting academic education within the classroom. They now serve as mentors and life guides for students, playing a crucial part in shaping their futures by instilling values, ethics, ethos, and discipline. Inquisitive children of today seek knowledge at a rapid pace, making it essential for teachers to keep up with their curiosity. Thinking beyond textbooks, teachers should expand their own knowledge base to satisfy their students’ thirst for learning.
Considering the multitude of responsibilities teachers face nowadays, school leaders must recognize that having the best teachers on their team is key to achieving success. Moreover, to sustain success, it is imperative to have effective strategies for retaining talented individuals within the school. While the global shortage of educators* may limit access to well-trained teachers for some leaders, they can still cultivate excellence among the teachers they have. Here are some practices leaders may employ to foster excellence:
1. Make astute hiring decisions: When selecting candidates during the recruitment process, it is crucial to evaluate their openness to learning new ideas and methodologies that can enhance their effectiveness. Moreover, it is advantageous to identify qualities that encourage collaboration among colleagues and the exchange of best practices. It is advisable to seek out candidates who display a strong inclination for career advancement and demonstrate a growth mindset.
2. Avoid a hire-and-fire approach: Leaders who adopt a hire-and-fire approach often experience lower employee loyalty, resulting in reduced productivity, increased recruitment costs, and on-the-job training expenses. Creating a sense of security in the workplace is essential for teachers, as the constant fear of job loss hinders their ability to deliver optimal results. If a teacher is facing performance challenges, consider implementing a few of the below strategies ins
3. Encourage continuous professional development: By prioritizing professional development, educational institutions showcase their dedication to fostering the growth and achievement of their educators. This commitment, in turn, results in the adoption of more effective teaching methods, improved student performance, and a supportive and positive school atmosphere.
4. Promote mentorship and facilitate peer collaboration: To support teachers who are new to the school and help them navigate the school culture effectively, establish a mentorship program within the institution. Assign experienced teachers, such as Heads of Departments (HODs) or Heads of Compartments (HOCs), as mentors for the new teachers. In the case of a group or chain of schools, mentors can be selected from other schools within the network. The Mentors can play a crucial role in assisting new teachers in various ways like improved classroom management skills, feedback on teaching practices, practical improvements, efficient work methods, etc. By facilitating mentorship and encouraging peer collaboration, schools create a supportive and nurturing environment for new teachers. This enables them to acclimate faster to their new surroundings, gain valuable guidance, and enhance their teaching practice. The mentorship program not only benefits the new teachers but also strengthens the overall teaching community, fostering collaboration and professional growth among all staff members.
5. Offer valuable assessments and constructive feedback: Instead of solely conducting performance evaluations at the end of the year, it is beneficial to establish a practice of regularly reviewing teachers’ work and providing constructive criticism. This should involve actively observing their classes while they are teaching and offering feedback aimed at improvement, separate from their year-end performance appraisal. This approach allows teachers to genuinely enhance their skills and fosters trust in their leaders. By implementing this ongoing evaluation process, schools can create a culture of continuous growth and improvement.
6. Implement open-door policies and prioritize active listening: To foster a supportive and engaging environment, establish open-door policies that allow teachers to feel comfortable approaching you with their work and personal concerns. It is essential for teachers to view you as a problem solver rather than a troublemaker. As a leader, possessing strong listening skills can make a significant difference within the institute. This leadership trait facilitates the development of positive relationships with teachers, inspires loyalty, encourages greater teacher engagement and innovation, and better fulfills their needs. Effective listening skills grant leaders access to diverse perspectives and knowledge, enabling them to make informed decisions, mitigate risks, and enhance the overall experience for teachers. By prioritizing active listening, you can create an atmosphere of trust, collaboration, and understanding.
7. Engage teachers in the decision-making process: Teachers experience a sense of fulfillment and recognition when they are involved in the decision-making process. This involvement communicates that they are valued and considered an integral part of the school system. While managing a school single-handedly is challenging for principals, delegating small decisions to teachers can create opportunities for their growth as future leaders within the school. By involving teachers in decision-making, principals not only distribute responsibilities but also foster a collaborative and empowered school community. This approach leads to increased job satisfaction, professional development, and overall school effectiveness
8. Promote a positive school culture: It is crucial for principals to cultivate a positive and inclusive school culture, where teachers foster positive relationships with one another and with students. Negativity and pessimistic conversations should have no place or time within the school community. It is essential to ensure that no one feels isolated or excluded based on factors such as gender, religion, caste, creed, color, nationality, or any other origin. Principals should prioritize demonstrating care and support for teachers, as this behavior will be reflected in how teachers interact with their students. Additionally, principals should develop strategies to address and resolve any cultural issues that may arise within the school environment. By promoting a positive school culture, principals create an atmosphere that nurtures collaboration, respect, and a sense of belonging for all members of the school community.
9. Allocate resources and support for classroom management: A competent leader understands the limitations and constraints of the school’s budget. Despite the financial challenges, principals should prioritize providing the necessary resources for teachers to effectively manage their classrooms. This includes supplying teaching aids, materials, and other resources that contribute to an organized and engaging learning environment. Adequate classroom resources not only facilitate effective teaching but also enhance students’ individual learning experiences.
In addition to providing basic classroom resources, principals should also allocate a portion of the budget for researching and implementing new technologies that can benefit students and the school. Investing in innovative educational technologies can improve teaching methodologies, enhance student engagement, and promote overall school development.
By demonstrating a commitment to supporting teachers with necessary resources and exploring opportunities for technological advancements, principals foster an environment conducive to effective teaching and learning. This investment in classroom management resources and research on new technologies ultimately benefits both teachers and students, contributing to the overall success and progress of the school.
10. Recognize and honor teacher success: Celebrating the achievements of teachers is an effective way to acknowledge their hard work and dedication, and it helps to maintain their motivation and commitment to ongoing efforts. Celebrations serve as a form of encouragement, reinforcing the value of their contributions and inspiring them to continue striving for excellence in their teaching practice. To honor teacher success, consider the following approaches, public recognition, awards and certificates, Professional Development opportunities, showcase success stories, appreciation events, etc.
By celebrating and honoring teacher success, schools demonstrate the value placed on their teachers’ contributions and create a positive and motivating work environment. These celebrations serve as reminders of the important role teachers play in shaping the lives of students and encourage continued dedication to their profession.
11. Promote self-care and work-life balance for teachers:
Recognizing the importance of self-care, principals should encourage teachers to prioritize their well-being and find a healthy work-life balance. The concept of “Sharpen the Saw®” from Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, emphasizes the need for individuals to rejuvenate themselves. To support teacher well-being, motivate them to consider actions such as exercise, mindfulness, hobbies, spending quality time with family and friends, etc.
By promoting self-care and work-life balance, principals can help prevent teacher burnout and improve overall well-being. When teachers prioritize self-care, they are better equipped to manage the demands of their profession, resulting in enhanced job satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately, better outcomes for both teachers and students.
12. Foster a culture of leadership development: Principals should provide opportunities for teachers to grow in their careers by identifying and nurturing their talents. Give teachers the chance to lead specific sections, departments, or committees/teams within the school, such as events, examinations, cultural activities, or editorial teams. By empowering teachers to take on leadership roles, cultivates loyalty, and adaptability to change, and enhances their decision-making skills. Also, teachers who have leadership experience become effective advocates for the principal’s vision and initiatives. They can mobilize support from their colleagues, facilitating the implementation of desired changes within the school community.
By creating a culture of leadership development, principals not only empower teachers but also build a strong network of capable leaders who can contribute to the school’s success. This approach fosters collaboration, innovation, and a sense of ownership among teachers, ultimately benefiting both the teachers and the overall school community.
13. Lead by example and embrace challenges: As a principal, it is essential to demonstrate leadership by taking on challenges and modeling the behavior you expect from teachers. By showing a willingness to tackle difficult tasks and create a stress-free work atmosphere, you inspire teachers to perform better in the classroom, leading to improved academic performance.
By implementing some or all of these strategies, school leaders can indeed empower and nurture their teachers, leading to enhanced overall success for the school. These approaches prioritize the professional development of teachers, promote a positive school culture, involve teachers in decision-making, provide resources and support, and recognize and celebrate teacher success. By investing in the growth and well-being of teachers, schools create an environment that fosters excellence in teaching, encourages innovation, and ultimately leads to improved student outcomes. The collective efforts of empowered and supported teachers contribute to the overall success and positive reputation of the school.
* As per a recent press release by UNESCO on 4 October 2022: On World Teachers’ Day, Audrey Azoulay, Director-general of UNESCO, called on governments around the world to step up their support for teachers, warning that the profession is struggling to retain its workforce and attract new talent. Worldwide, 69 million teachers are needed to reach universal basic education by 2030. It also reads that lack of training, unattractive working conditions, and inadequate funding all undermine the teaching profession and aggravate the global learning crisis. * Refer to the UNESCO research on global shortage.